Christmas in California's Wine Country
Last week, my sister called and wanted me to shoot their family portraits for this Christmas season. They only live about 40 miles south of us, so the drive is short and always well worth it. But thanks to viruses in her household, the photo shoot had to be postponed. Finally, today looked like a good day. The weather seemed to be cooperating, and so did the kids' colds so I trucked my way down there as soon as I got the call from Sis. Once I was there and everyone was dressed in their portrait-wear, my brother-in-law (Mr. Architect) made the wonderful suggestion that the family portraits be shot out in the vineyards that are only a mile or two from their home.
Sis and Mr. Architect live in one of the Northern California valleys that rivals Napa Valley as being a world-renowned producer of wine grapes. It is also the valley wherein is nestled my hometown. It has been "the soil" that has produced me, my childhood, my young adulthood, and that of my siblings--something of far more value than wine grapes. Even though our family are all devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and, therefore, don't drink any wine or alcohol) there is a deep familial connection with the beauty of the vineyards that we've grown to love as we've grown up around them. Now my niece and nephew are getting that same wonderful opportunity of living in a valley with a rich heritage in vitriculture. It seemed the fitting place for a family portrait.
Mr. Architect's idea was "golden" in more ways than one. The vineyards have been harvested for the year, and the leaves that are left are turning lovely amber shades in the cool December air. It was so picturesque. We only had to pull over to the side of the road and walk less than 100 yards to be in the midst of all the beauty.
The kids were the first to spot the unharvested grapes still on the vine. I immediately jumped on the chance to photograph them in the beautiful late afternoon sun. The depth of the color of the grapes was so amazing. The shot above is straight out of the camera with only my copyright banner added. I couldn't change it one smidgen in post-processing, because it was so gorgeous as it was.
As we strolled the outskirts of the vineyards, we spotted three jack rabbits as they leaped and bounded from row to row in the interior of the vineyards and eventually sprang over the rolling hillside. It is serendipitous moments like this that have always made me happy when I see a new vineyard go in instead of a new subdivision.
The portrait session was a delight without any hiccups or whining (that's what happens when kids grow older than the age of 5). Although the posed family portraits are being reserved for Christmas cards to be sent out by Sis, I did want to share a wonderful candid shot of the family as they walked in the vineyard from one posing spot to another.
Yes, this is the epitome of a Christmas in California's beautiful wine country. It's why my heart will always be here despite our lack of white Christmases.
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