a sommelier’s perspective

Compelling curvatures of leaves, canes and tendrils. Vivid, pillowy, plump, fat or oval, hunky or discreet clusters of fruit. Dancing on taut wires, or hanging freely in the wind.

Cracking crevices in twisting trunks and gnarled spurs. Green, resiny, composting scents of scrub, woodland and underbrush. Rocks, gravel, sand and loam. Lonely barns, buzzing insectories.

Moon dusty flatlands, killer slopes, dreamy hillsides. Sweet, heady, funky or wild party-like fermentations.

Blinding sun, cutting wind, miserable rain. Smidgens of oak, cold steel, flashing light, tinkling glass. Sticky hands, grimy faces, stained teeth, prickling burred jeans, filthy shoes.

These are sensations that mean something to a sommelier. 

At least to an ex-sommelier (28 years of my prior life) who is still driven by that original thirst; a consuming curiosity. Seeking signs, any hint or direct correlation, between what is found in the field and what ends up in a bottle… or photograph. 

This, really, is the only thing that interests me. Opening those proverbial doors of perception; through words (not numbers!) and, hopefully, images.

That’s my stand. I’ll shout it from the hilltops. 


Author/photographer with Kermit Lynch in Berkeley.

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