For the past few years Paso Robles has been my second home. On our last visit there I wanted to do a quick lifestyle shoot in wine country. I'm currently in love with these. Thanks so much to my beautiful model Mallory! So glad we finally got to work together.
I had the good fortune to be in Paso Robles on assignment when Domenique contacted me wanting to do a shoot. Domenique and I had previously worked together to shoot an athletic/sportswear inspired shoot in Paso Robles and she is a rock star, so of course we made it happen. We tried out a couple of different concepts and played around with wardrobe and scenery. The light was spectacular, and Domenique's skin was luminescent. Here's some of my favorites from that day.
New season, new work at Edible SLO. I was super stoked to have some of my harvest photos published in a photo essay for the magazine.
I also shot a story on some local businesses in the area including Komplete Kombucha, based in San Luis Obispo and Villacana Winery's RE:find Distillery in Paso Robles.
Years ago I had a friend that brewed her own kombucha and it was terrible. Bitter, acrid, and way to powdery and green tasting. I was pleasantly surprised that I really liked the brew made by Komplete Kombucha. I tried their ginger flavor and their hibiscus, and both were fantastic. They made me a kombucha convert overnight. The company is made up of three young and ambitious entrepreneurs and I see big things in their future.
RE:find Distillery and Spirits is owned and operated by the truly lovely Monica and Alex Villacana. They make vodka, gin, rye whiskey, and limoncello from the first press grape juice that comes from their own Villacana Winery during the winemaking process. With two businesses to run, Monica and Alex are very busy people but on the day that I photographed them I found them to be energized and very sweet and hospitable. They showed me around the distillery and tasting room and we chatted about the various projects they have in the works. When the shoot was over they very generously gave me a bottle of my choosing to take home. I went with the gin because there are few things better on a hot summer day than a gin and tonic. Wow, was I impressed. My boyfriend Justin proclaimed that it was even better than Hendrick's, which as all gin lovers know is the peak of gin perfection. You can find RE:find products at cool bars and liquor stores everywhere, including my neighborhood Oaks Gourmet in Franklin Village in Hollywood!
I had the opportunity to shoot portraits of Sunni Mullinax, the newly elected President of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce to go along with a press release announcement of her appointment. She is fantastic, and I know she'll be a great ambassador to the Paso Robles community!
Although I've moved away from the Central Coast I just can't seem to stay away. I love shooting for Edible SLO magazine because I always get to photograph an interesting, eclectic group of people. This issue I shot four women who are making waves in the farming community as well as their "Neighborhood Dirt" section which is a spread of images that features a local person with a cool living space.
This issue one of my images of Bonnie Sayers was on the cover. Pretty cool! We shot at her house in her spectacular backyard that was turned into a garden wonderland. She is an avid seed saver, focused on heirloom corn seeds. I once had a very large selection of heirloom tomato seeds and I understand how important it is that people continue to not only grow heirloom seeds, but to preserve them from extinction.
You can read more about Bonnie and all of the ladies featured in the article by picking up an issue of Edible SLO, available at foodie locations and wineries throughout SLO County or on the website www.edibleslo.com.
Back in October I had the opportunity to photograph three chefs from some of my favorite restaurants in San Luis Obispo County for Edible SLO magazine. The magazine came out in January and is on news stands now. Each of the chefs are committed to sourcing local, seasonal, sustainable products and are really at the forefront of the farm-to-table dining movement. I have eaten at each of the restaurants featured in this issue and I can safely say that if you're on the Central Coast and looking for a spectacular meal you will find one anywhere these chefs are cooking.
A few months back I did some work for the Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles. Robert Hall is one of the pioneers of Paso wine and has one of the coolest barrel rooms around. The ads have been popping up in various publications. It's always nice seeing work in print. Cheers!
Over the past few years I've fully fallen in love with Paso Robles. Combining that with my love of food and wine, being asked to shoot for the PRWCA was a really cool honor for me. Here are some images that will be used in the 2014 "Grow Wild" campaign to promote the Paso Robles wine region.
A big part of the campaign focuses on Paso's sustainable practices including use of animals to abate weeds, fertilize the soil, and promote a holistic farming practices. Tablas Creek Winery was nice enough to let the animals loose in the vineyard for us even though the grapes were still on the vines. Perhaps a bottle or two worth of grapes were sacrificed to the animals for the cause, but hopefully the images were worth it!
We also shot in the barrel room at Robert Hall Winery. The size of the cellar always shocks me and it's a challenge to photograph in such a cavernous space. The barrels go on for days and the smell of oak and fermentation is heavenly. Not a bad place to work for the day.
Last Friday the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce held its inaugural Farm to Fork Progressive Food and Wine Tour. The tour was a multi-location food and wine extravaganza of some of the best things the area has to offer. Proceeds benefit a scholarship fund for local high-schoolers. I donated some of my images to be used for promotion of the event and they were nice enough to invite me along for the day. At right is the brochure for the event with some of my work. It was a delightful, hot, whirlwind day (filled with lots of cool swag), here are a few of the highlights...
A breakfast of bacon wrapped fig strata, quinoa with apples, roasted rosemary potatoes and chimichuri at the Pioneer Museum was the way the group of 100-plus people were welcomed to the tour. We then boarded buses and headed off to our first stop, Windrose Farm in Creston. Once there we were treated with chipotle and heirloom tomato bloody mary's made with a local grape-based Re:Fined vodka. In my book it doesn't get much better than this. Then, bloody marys in hand, we were given a tour of the farm by owner Barbara Spencer. Windrose is an organic, bio-dynamic marvel, growing more than 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, apples, squash, peppers, and almost anything else one can imagine. After the tour the group sat down for a tomato tasting and some lemonade, then on to our next stop...almost.
I won't get into the details, but there were some bus issues that caused some very uncomfortable time in the sun. Luckily there was a bottle of water in my goodie bag and my bloody mary was still in effect. Once a new bus arrived to take us to our next stop we were in business again. The second stop, Windfall Farm, was the apex of the tour. A cooking demonstration by cookbook author Brigit Binns while sitting on bales of hay and sipping J Lohr Viogner was just what I needed after the bus debacle. Even better, we all got a copy of the cookbook which I've been eyeing in local shops for weeks.
Binns demoed the food which we were to be served later, a pear and fennel salad and a braised short rib with creamy polenta, yum! The wine continued to flow as we moved onto communal tables for lunch. I moved on to some Petit Syrah to pair with my short rib and stopped to stroll through the spectacular foaling barn near where lunch was being served. The group was mostly women and I had a very diverse, interesting bunch of ladies at my table. After lunch it was time to grab a bottle of J Lohr's premium Hilltop Cabernet, and proceed to our final stop, Pasolivo for a little something sweet.
A tour of the olive orchard, followed by an olive oil tasting were a nice way to round out the day. I enjoyed some local Leo Leo strawberry gelato in the shade, and the tour was complete. Such a fun day surrounded by people who are doing truly impressive things with their resources. I am so proud to have become a part of the Paso Robles food and wine community over the past couple of years and it brings joy to see good, hard working people thrive.
On Saturday, September 15th, two lovely events were held at Windrose Farm in Paso Robles, California. First in the afternoon there was a tomato tasting featuring over 20 varieties of tomatoes. In the evening there was a farm to table feast paired with local wines from Tablas Creek Winery. It was a hot summer night, but spirits were high on the farm. Here are some images from the event and around the pastoral grounds of Windrose Farm.
One of my favorite parts of the day was simply wandering around the expansive apple orchards. There are dozens of free-roaming chickens that made themselves at home in the shade beneath the trees. Windrose is in a unique location in that they can successfully grow both apples (which typically require a cool climate) and tomatoes (which love the heat) due to their warm days and cool nights.
Windrose also raises sheep on thier property. They have tons of room to roam about, and lead happy lives hanging out with the dogs in the pasture.
Barbara and Bill Spencer are the owners of Windrose. Barbara is seen here talking to the diners about the practices on the farm and what the menu is for the evening.
Neil Collins (seen at right), the winemaker at Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, paired each course with his wines. Tablas Creek is known for being a leader in Rhone varietals, which proved to be a great pairing with the menu. Almost all of the ingredients were sourced from Windrose, and were prepared by chef Clark Staub of Flatbread Full of Life based out of Los Alamos. You can find out more about Tablas Creek and Flatbread here...
Windrose Farm owners Barbara and Bill Spencer in front of their sheep.
Flatbread brought out their wood burning oven from which they prepared pizza during the day and used to cook the dinner in the evening. Chef Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles came to assist with the dinner as well as Kat from Flatbread.
The day was a great success and I am lucky to have been a part of the festivities. The Central Coast food and wine community is a very tight-knit group and it is nice to see people who are passionate about the things they create and who value artisinal traditions and quality ingredients.
Anyone who is familiar with Paso Robles, California probably knows two basic things about it: they make great wine in Paso, and it gets really, really hot there. Unfortunately me and the team got a a big dose of the heat during our shoot last week. Clocking in at about 105 degrees, it was a warm one. Everyone was a good sport and we kept the water super cold in ice and we hung out by the lake as much as possible.
Thanks so much to everyone involved!
Linsey Milligan, Christina Diaz, Lindsey Hunt, Rob Martin, and Joseph Garcia.