Wine tasting at Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena WIne Tasting_sIn honor of Alan Rickman, here’s a sketch from my new book “Impressions of Wine Country.” Aside from his role in the popular Harry Potter series, Rickman starred in countless other films. One of my favorites is his turn as British wine merchant Steven Spurrier in “Bottle Shock.” The film captures a pivotal moment in California wine’s history, as it transitioned from a serviceable bulk product to its current status as a serious contender in today’s world of wine. It was Spurrier (played in the film by Rickman), who organized the blind tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as the “Judgment of Paris.” Though the screenplay is not historically accurate, the story is fun, and of course, Alan Rickman’s performance makes it all worth while.
I drew this sketch in the Sun Room at Chateau Montelena, while tasting their Chardonnay, Cabernets, and newly released Riesling. If you haven’t yet been to the winery, I highly recommend a visit, as its estate is as gorgeous as are its wines.

Chris Amberger and Friends

Chris Amberger and Friends_s

I don’t think there’s a better way to break in a brand new sketchbook than going out and listening to some Jazz. Once a month the Cloverdale Arts Alliance presents The Jazz Club. Tonight was Chris Amberger and Friends playing classic and chamber jazz with intricate solos and duets. Members of the group have played with Tom Dorsey, Richie Havens Show, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Glen Miller Orchestra, Frank Sinatra, BB King, and Ray Charles. What a great evening of art and jazz.

Tofanelli Vineyards, Napa

Vince's Vineyard in Napa

Sketch of Vince Tofanelli’s vineyard located in Calistoga (Napa County) just before harvest. Though Vince sells most of his grapes to wineries, he reserves a portion for his own label, Tofanelli Wines. They are some of the best I’ve tasted. Vince was nice enough to allow me access to his vineyards many times over the course of a year. I cover all the details in my book, “Impressions of Wine County.”

Chateau Montelena Winery

Chateau Montelena final Sans line

Chateau Montelena is a historic winery in Northern Napa County most noted for winning the Paris Tasting back in 1976. The winery grounds are a spectacular sight and loaded with ideal sketching opportunities! I spent two weeks roaming the grounds, sketching, and wine tasting for my brand new book “Impressions of Wine Country.” This finished sketch spreads across two pages in my book and one that I had to come back to three different times before finishing it. I never had one full block of time that was long enough to capture the old chateau in one sitting.

My new book is Available on Amazon.

Impressions of Wine Country

Impressions of Wine CountryI am proud to announce the publication of my new book, “Impressions of Wine Country”. In this book, I talk with a number of winemakers and grape growers to uncover the artistry of viticulture and viniculture in this unique area of the world. It is both a story of how wine is grown and crafted from the vine to the glass and a picture book containing over 170 of my watercolors (drawn mostly on location). Travel with me as I explore the seasons of the vineyard in Northern California.

Preston Vineyards and Farms

Preston_sOver the past month, I’ve visited Preston Vineyards and Farms several times for produce, sketching, and of course, wine tasting. The property is situated in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley and is a beautiful place to visit, especially in fall. The farm store is loaded with gourds, pumpkins, herbs, zucchini, and much more. Picnic tables are in abundance and make perfect places for lunch and a quick sketch.