Art and wine have been entwined for centuries – natural creative bedfellows whose mutual consumption, some might say, enhances the experience of both. Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca live and breathe both art forms, manifested in their Scottsdale wine gallery, where visual art blends seamlessly with the oenological art produced by their vineyard and winery in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona.
This Saturday marks the debut of “Through the Grapevine,” an exhibit by Glendale photographer Jenelle Bonifield of Food & Lifestyles Photography (foodandlifestyles.com) that will run through November. Bonifield’s stunning photos provide an intimate look at the grapes and vines of LDV Winery. She and her photographs will be at LDV Wine Gallery in Scottsdale for an opening reception with live music, wine specials and light appetizers.
We chatted with Bonifield, a former motion graphics artist at an animation studio in Scottsdale, about her transition to photography, her inspiration and what she’s drinking.
What do you like to photograph?
I basically do people, food, farm-to-table, grape vines, anything to do with people and life.
How did this exhibit transpire?
They’re [Dunham and Fiandaca] friends of mine and we’ve done business together. I started visiting their vineyard in southern arizona. It was really beautiful, pristine. Beautiful mountains, big skies. I loved going down there and shooting their grapevines at different times of the year. They asked me to do an exhibit here, and that’s how this whole thing came about. Peggy and Curt are really into the arts and wine, and it’s just a perfect match.
What’s your favorite time of year to shoot at the vineyard? Favorite grape colors?
I would say that August is really a peak time for the colors. You get the vibrant reds, yellows and greens. The varietal colors come about then. I was down in the spring when they were in the blooming stage, and they’re all green, it doesn’t matter what kind. They’re little baby green grapes that look kind of like peas. I try to get back every six weeks and photograph them at different stages. They have the green grapes and the red grapes, and you start seeing their differences in June and July and by August they’re really peaking.
Do you enjoy photographing wine as well as grapes?
I love photographing the glasses of wine in nature, outdoors, with the bottle and grapes and everything. I’ve been working with a bloggist, and we do a lot of wine and cocktails along with the food.
You must feel such a connection to the earth when you’re shooting at the vineyard.
It’s really getting into the earthiness, the fruit coming full-circle, the fruit of the earth. The grapevines are just so subjective to the climate, you never know how the harvest is going to come to fruition and what the wine will be like each year, so it’s exciting. Curt Dunham is such a great wine master. I’ve learned a lot from him. My daughter and I were down for the harvest of the Viognier and we did a lot of hands-on things, like the picking and the sorting. It was fun to experience that end of it, too.
What is your favorite time to shoot?
I really like to photograph the vineyard in the early morning light. My favorite photographs are just as dawn is breaking, before the sun rises above the Chiricahua mountains and the sky is pink and blue. As soon as the sun bursts from the mountains, catching them [the vines] with light coming through the grapes, it’s just my favorite thing. It’s where I get my inspiration. I can shoot for three hours straight with the break of dawn, with the sunrise, without even noticing that time has gone by at all. I get lost in a time warp.
Do you have a favorite LDV wine you’ll be sipping at the reception?
I love all of their wines; they’re all very unique. I kind of prefer the reds, although sometimes their white wines are just extraordinary. It’ll be interesting to see what this harvest leads to. I think if I had to pick a favorite it would be the Petite Sirah. They’re all wonderful – it’s hard to pick. It’s like picking a favorite child.
If you go:
Meet the Artist Reception: Jenelle Bonifield
Saturday, September 12, from 5-7 p.m.
LDV Wine Gallery
6951 E. First St., Scottsdale
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