We like the landscape and we like to photograph it. When we go out into the field, we are interested in capturing general views and also specific aspects: specific vineyard plots, clusters and vines, the different soils, plants and flowers in the environment … We do it with our mobile cameras but when we need to photograph with more quality, we rely on the work of a professional like Fernando Caballero, from the company Reproimagen.
For years, with Fernando and the Reproimagen team, we have expanded the visual documentation of our Rioja vineyard and the landscape it is framed in. After touring vineyards of all kinds, we wanted to ask him how the Rioja landscape lives, such as Professional and also the nature lover that he is.We accompanied the conversation with a selection of the photographs that we commissioned him in the summer of 2019 as part of the Muriel Wines vineyard documentation.
What is landscape?
For me, landscape means diversity. Especially in Rioja: it is a country in miniature. It has everything from the wettest to the driest. Biodiversity is tremendous. I always jokingly say that the only thing missing is having the sea.
And the vineyard landscape? Is it also diverse?
Of course. Although at a glance all the vines are similar, the orography and the vegetation of the environment define many differences. Horizons, soils, the almond trees and forests, the vine growing style, the forms of the vine lines, the age of the vines, the time of yea … In the end, all the vineyards are different and you can find all peculiarities. And in fact, it is the landscape that always makes the difference and I look for the orography and the vegetation to accompany.
What is the best time to photograph vineyards?
All times of the year have something, but the earliest and coolest spring and autumn, with their colors, are the most special moments. The good thing about spring is that you can see the green of the tender shoots and at the same time the trunks and the soils: you can see everything. Lately I like winter a lot, you can also get a lot out of it.
And the best time of day?
There are two, sunrise and sunset. Because of the contrast of light and the color temperature that is in those hours. In the middle of the day, the light tone is more bland. In addition, at dawn there are some atmospheric phenomena such as mists, which are wonderful. A few days ago I was taking photos in the Valduengo area, in Elciego, and there were spectacular clouds and sunrise.
Since you mention Valduengo, where we have a vineyard, what are the areas of Muriel Wines that you like to photograph the most?
One of my favorites is El Gallo, also in Elciego. At first, it seems that it is not going to offer much visually, as it is a vineyard plateau, but it is framed by two mountain landscapes that give a lot: Sierra de Cantabria range to the north and Sierra de la Demanda to the south. It also has vines of all kinds and a pond…. Another place that I really like is San Roque, above the village. It has some old vines with a wonderful trunk, which play very well with the general context. For its part, the Valduengo area is curious because of the great extension it has.
From the most rugged vineyards to the banks of the Ebro, there is a world.
Yes, an example is Veriquete, in Lanciego, with stone slabs and cherry trees on the sides of the vineyard that form a beautiful complex. The environment is wilder and the profile of the mountains is very attractive. It is a good example of the great differences in the Riojan vineyard, as this place has nothing to do with the Assa estate, on the banks of the Ebro. And the meanders of the river create very different corners and places, with a great charm.
Then there is our extensive estate in Montalvillo, in Rioja Oriental.
Montalvillo, without having the same beauty as the Sonsierra vineyard, is spectacular for its mountain environment and for the wide range of views. It is also the best proof of how the landscape changes over time. That slope of the Sierra de Yerga is not at all like what it was a few years ago. In general, in this world of wine the vines remain but the landscape always changes.
Do you follow the work of other photographers?
I have no specific visual references, but I really like looking at photos. For me, social networks like instagram have been phenomenal, I soak up a lot of information and learn to select. I’m very curious but I’m not a fetishist. Not even of my own work. If you ask me which is my best photo I would tell you that it is the one that I am going to take tomorrow.