Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mustard Fields Forever

As we know, there are two kinds of people: Photographers and others...

For "others" the Napa Valley is considered one of the best wine regions in the US. Due to a healthy mix of almost Mediterranean climate, sheltered geography and fertile soil the area around Napa County is ideal for growing grapes.

Now photographers, although certainly enjoying the wine, are coming here for a different reason: The Mustard!

Vineyard owners plant the mustard not only for the photographers pleasure but actually it makes a perfect cover crop for the dirt in between the rows for multiple reasons: It improves water penetration, it fertilizes by capturing nitrogen out of the air and contributing it to the soil once plowed under and best of all, it functions as "biofumigant" warding off nasty pests.

Whatever the reason from late February to early April it's simply beautiful!

I hadn't been to Napa in spring for a few seasons, so this year two photographer friends and I headed up there to indulge ourselves in yellow!

Since the morning weather was close to rain we decided to start our trip at the Oxbow Market in Napa.

A culinary as well as very photogenic destination!

Not your simple cupcake from Kara's Cupcakes:

Delicious Olive Oils from The Olive Press
Their Blood Orange Olive Oil is to die for!

Spices from all over the world at Whole Spice

and much more, but we wanted to photograph mustard, right?

Our first stop was Quixote winery, which is secretly tucked in a side valley off the Silverado trail. As a Hundertwasser fan, I first had to photograph some architecture, before diverting my attention to the mustard:

Here now, Mustard everywhere:

Not much mustard here, but these old vines reminded my of fencers in a bout, ready to attack:

After spending quite some time at and around Quixote winery, we were off to our next destination, Yountmill Road. But on the way, we found these rows, just bursting with mustard at Baldacci's winery:

At Yountmill road photographing the mustard proofed to be a bit tricky, since workers were swarming all over the place to give the vines their spring cut. Here a scene with the yet uncut vines...bad hair day?

Our next stop was Chateau Montelena, not much mustard here, but such nice grounds, that we decided to give in to our growling stomachs ( it was after 2 pm already) and have lunch. Of course with a sip of wine.

After these highlights we drove along Hwy 29, looking out for mustard and stopping at promising sights. As for example these "striped" vineyards at Trinchero Winery:

Or these really old vines along Hwy 29:

It always amazes me how fast a day goes by when photographing. It seemed we just had started, when we noticed the light was fading and we had to part and head home.
I want to close with my very favorite image of Napa Valley, that I took many years ago at Rattlesnake Acres. Unfortunately these vines are no longer, they became too old and had to go a couple of years ago.

Misty Morning at Rattlesnake Acres:

For more of my Napa Valley images, please check out the Napa Valley Gallery on my website.

No comments:

Post a Comment