It's no secret that people from all over the world come to Napa Valley for the quintessential "vineyard vibes" and to taste as many wines as it takes for them to fall off their chair. But then on top of all that amazing wine, you discover that. most of the establishments and surrounding grounds are SO BEAUTIFUL! So why wouldn't you want to memorialize your experience with some amazing pictures? Because of this, it is very common for those who are visiting, or even locals, to want to have professional pictures taken at either a winery or a vineyard, but it's rare that it is as easy as showing up and taking pictures. All wineries are different, with different sets of rules, and different ways of conducting their businesses. Knowing what is okay and what is not okay, before hiring a photographer to shoot at a winery, is very crucial. So here are some tips and food for thought when looking to book a photo session that offers the perfect vineyard-Napa feeling.
"WHERE ARE THE WINERIES IN NAPA?"
First, let's talk about locations. For a visitor' it may come as a shock as to HOW MANY wineries there actually are in the area. There are between 400-500 wineries in Napa Valley alone, which doesn't include private vineyards or even the surrounding areas, like Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Etc. So if you are not finding a place that isn't your vibe, your price range, or even available to shoot at, don't worry! There are an insane amount of options for you to pick from and chances are that you will get a headache from looking at all of them. Now Having said that, there is a direction I can point you in. Most of the larger more famous wineries all reside in the same area.
"Shocker"... Napa Valley is quite literally a valley within the County of Napa that runs all the way from the City of Napa (Downtown) up to the very north end of the county near Calistoga. This valley hosts hundreds of wineries, big and small for you to hop to and from. The areas include Oakville, Yountville, Zinfandel, Rutherford, St. Helena, and Calistoga running south to north. Lucky for us, they made it very easy for tourists as there are a couple of roads that take you all that way from one end to the other. The roads you will most likely be driving are the 29 Highway, 128 Highway, and Silverado Trail road.
"What is the difference between a winery and a vineyard?"
Next, we have to understand that the term "winery" and "vineyard" are not interchangeable. That means that just because a location is listed as a vineyard, does not mean it is a winery and vice-versa. A vineyard is a crop where grapes are grown and harvested, whereas a winery is a production site that turns the grapes into wine. Often times there are vineyards near or on the winery properties so you can access both at the same time. On the other hand, there are many vineyards that are not even accessible to the public because they are on private property.
So now, you might ask why am I explaining all of this? Well, this is important to know because one of these two locations will usually require more money or effort in planning if you decide to have a photoshoot there. It is extremely important to sort out where you would like to go or have pictures taken far ahead of time so you can understand all of the different rules or regulations.
"What should I look out for when planning a shoot at a winery or vineyard?"
u If your visiting Napa with your friends or family for a special event and want all of the works in your Napa experience, then visiting a winery is definitely for you. The wine tasting, the tour, and the grounds exploration are the perfect setup for not just fun with loved ones but also for pictures! Before even talking to a photographer though there is information you will want to get from your chosen establishment, or better yet get information from more than one establishment just in case. Make sure you settle these questions with them beforehand so you can contact your photographer with all the details.
Ask the following questions:
- If you need to book ahead of time or if they take walk-ins? The larger and nicer the winery is, the more likely you will need to book way ahead of time.
- how much does it cost per person to enter? This price will usually be an admission fee or often times places will have package deals where you purchase a tasting or a tour and that includes your admission fee.
- Do they allow photography or photographers? There are often times rules that don't allow photographers to bring large flash equipment and also designate when and where photos are allowed.
- Is there a photo fee? Some of the wineries insist that in order for the photographer to be admitted they must pay the admissions fee and or purchase a tasting in order to join the group even if they have no intention of drinking or dining.
If you're not looking for the full experience of going to a winery and having a tasting or a tour in a grand establishment, then a vineyard is probably more your style. As far as vineyards go, they are pretty much scattered all over the place, and I mean ALL OVER. Driving by, you never really know if a vineyard is connected to a public establishment, a large company, a school, or even someone's private property where they live. Often times there will be a fence around it or even a no trespassing sign warning people to stay. Asking for permission to shoot on the property is always best and you can sometimes catch someone in a good mood or a very friendly property owner who will allow you to shoot in their vineyards. Having said that, depending on the location, oftentimes you can get away with pulling over on the side of the road and taking some pictures near the growing vines so long as you are cautious that someone COULD potentially get mad and ask you to leave.
There you have it!
I hope this was helpful for anyone who is having an upcoming, proposal, birthday, vacation, engagement, or even wedding in Napa Valley's Wine Country. If you have any questions about how much it costs to hire a photographer for your upcoming event or want suggestions as to which wineries or venues are my favorite feel free to reach out with all of your questions. Otherwise, you can learn more about how photo sessions work on the FAQ page.