Seattle Photographer Daniel Sheehan's Photo Blog

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Red Mountain, Washington State Appellation


I had an editorial assignment over in the Yakima Valley last week so while I was close by, I decided to stop off to make some panoramas of one of my favorite sources of red wine, the Red Mountain Appellation. It is early in the growing season but the vines look very promising this first half of June. Today we have tied the record for the longest stretch without rainfall in Seattle: 29 days. It was also pretty dry over in central Washington. I saw the fire danger signs indicating high.

It’s funny that looking at the mountain in this photograph, you can not see anything red about Red Mountain. Here is some more information on Red Mountain:
The Red Mountain AVA is Washington’s smallest. The region is approximately 4,040 acres with approximately 800 acres currently planted. The name Red Mountain can be misleading for two reasons. First, it does not refer to the color of the mountain’s soil, but rather, some say, to a native grass with a red hue. Secondly, Red Mountain, for those with other mountains in mind, might be a disappointment, since its elevation ranges from only 500 to 1,500 feet. Even so, among the rolling hills of eastern Washington’s desert, Red Mountain’s sloping hillside is a prominent landmark, storing radiant heat for the growing vines of the valley floor. The Yakima River flows nearby, helping moderate climate extremes, as do so many major rivers in wine country regions throughout the world.

In the 1970s, John Williams of Kiona Vineyards and Jim Holmes, originally of Kiona then Ciel du Cheval vineyards, with advice from Walter Clore, (officially recognized by the Washington State Legislature in 2003 as the father of the Washington State wine industry) pioneered grape growing in the area. In the 1980s, wines made from grapes in the Red Mountain area began receiving recognition for their distinct flavor profiles though federal laws permitted only to carry the designation as being from the Columbia Valley AVA or Yakima Valley AVA. In the late 1990s, Lorne Jacobson from Hedges Family Estates started a drive to achieve federal recognition of the area as its own AVA, which was granted in April, 2001. The Hedges Family Estates’ appellation petition was joined by Kiona Vineyards, Blackwood Canyon Vintners, Sandhill Winery, Seth Ryan Winery and Terra Blanca Winery.

In 2007, Chateau Ste Michelle and Marchesi Antinori invested 6.5 million dollars in the appellation to purchase vineyards and establish a winery to produce their joint venture wine, Col Solare.

Some say Red Mountain Appellation has it all: slope, exposure, weather conditions, good air drainage, large swings between day and night temperatures, six wineries within a few miles, plenty of undeveloped land, gravelly soil with high calcium carbonate content and high pH (high alkalinity), both contributing flavor to grapes grown here. Sloping lands beneath the broad Red Mountain lie at the southeast end of the Yakima Valley, overlooking Benton City, where annual rainfall is only about six inches, and supplemental irrigation is usually provided a few months into the growing season. Wines made from Red Mountain fruit express the terroir with great strength and richness, while demonstrating exceptional balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin.

The Vineyards:Red Mountain is home to many of the state’s most prestigious grape growers such as Klipsun Vineyards, Ciel de Cheval Vineyards, Hedges Vineyards, Red Mountain Vineyards (RMV), Kiona Vineyards, Artz Vineyards, and Tapteil Vineyards. These vineyards sell their fruit to some of the state’s most celebrated wineries such as Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin, Soos Creek Cellars, Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will, Woodward CanyonL’Ecole No41,  DeLille Cellars, Nota Bene, Matthews Cellars, McCrea Cellars, Washington Hills (Apex, Bridgman), Waterbrook, Seven Hills Winery, and Canoe Ridge.

The area is known for producing powerful, tannic red wines. The wines are known for their balance in flavors, with an intense concentration of berry flavors.Compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon produced in other areas of the states, the Cabernets here are more structured than fruit-driven. Grapes from this area are in high demand and vineyards with notable reputations can receive as much as 30% above market price for their crops. The primary Cabernet Sauvignon clone planted is clone #8, which in Red Mountain produces a Cabernet wine similar in profile to a California wine, while the same clone planted in nearby Horse Heaven Hills AVA produces a wine similar in profile to Bordeaux.

100 point wines

Many of Washington “Cult wines” are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in this AVA including the 2002, 2003 and 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, which scored the rare 100 point rating from Robert Parker “The Wine Advocate” Only 15 other wines in the US have received this designation, all made from California grapes. Only five other previous vintages have received consecutive perfect scores in The Wine Advocate’ publishing history. The Quilceda Creek wines were a blends with grapes from three Red Mountain vineyards-Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Taptiel-and one vineyard from the nearby Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

source: Wines Northwest, Wikipedia


Architectural Photography – The Jan Sewell House


Recently, I photographed Jan Sewell of Jan Sewell Design and Jan Sewell Real Estate and her beautiful home in Madison Park. Her place is like a museum with incredible art on all the walls and sculpture scattered all around the place. She does decorate and sell homes for a living after all, so it is no surprise that her place is drop dead gorgeous. I have to add that Jan is not your normal real estate agent. She will make you house look so good you very well might have to change your mind about selling it in the end.
















So what do you from a real estate agent with great taste?

More Photos From Iran Election Protest

Supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran.

The blog of the Boston Globe “The Big Picture”, has just posted some more photos from today’s demonstrations in Iran. They say”After the relatively free (if sporadic) flow of news, tweets, video and photographs from Iran the past several days, today saw a tighter clampdown, with the government officially banning foreign media from covering rallies and taking further efforts to block online communications. Though photographs from inside Iran are now more rare, there are still a few available. Collected here are three mini-collections: images of reactions from Iranians abroad and the international community, images of pro-Ahmadinejad rallies from Iran (allowed under current restrictions), and several photos from continued rallies held today in support of reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi.” They have added 27 new photos today. Go and check it out It is at The Big Picture


Landscape Photography


Crossing the Columbia I was heading back to Seattle from an editorial assignment in Spokane, Washington, when the sky started turning darker. I could see many miles ahead since the land is so flat and the rain storm was massive, but the sun would peak through in place. There was a rainbow but by the time I reached the Columbia River and a place to pull over the rainbow was gone. Just the mass of dark clouds and rain squalls over the Columbia running down in the gorge below

New York Times Runs Staged Photograph


The New York Times ran an unusual note from the editor last Friday stating:

“A picture on May 5 with the continuation of a front-page article about the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and the strategic advantages it offers to Taliban insurgents fighting American troops, showed a silhouetted Taliban logistics tactician, who was interviewed for the article, holding a rifle, creating the impression that the weapon belonged to him. The Times subsequently learned from the photographer that the rifle belonged to the owner of a home in Pakistan where the interview took place, and that the Taliban tactician had held the weapon only for the purpose of the photograph.

“Had The Times known this information at the time of publication, it would not have used the photograph to illustrate the article.”

I was wondering about who had made the picture and what the circumstances about it were. I found out today well known and respected Washington DC photographer John Harrington posted some information he dug up about the controversy. I think it is especially interesting to read what he has to say about the relationship between what the NY Times  stands for and what they pay the photographers who contribute to their newspaper.

He says:

” Zackary Canepari has a pretty big problem. At the ripe old age of 30 or so, he is likely now persona non-grata at the New York Times, and his journalistic ethics will also likely give other editorial publications pause to hire him.” Then he continues ….Unfortunately, when publications pay a pittance for their photographers, and do not pay a living wage, the photographers with the integrity necessary to work for the top publications in the world do other things – their own projects, books, commercial work, and so on. Heck, even a few teach classes and workshops. Because the New York Times has not, well, pardon the pun, kept up with the times, in terms of pay, they have reapt what they have sown. I would not be surprised that there are others they didn’t catch, and in an era where photographers are driven to compete, whether Zack’s posed photo, which is over the line, to the Reuters photographer with the “enhanced” smoke , which is egregiously over the line, until photographers are paid fairly enough that they can do their jobs – and, it should be said, are staffers with job security, pressures like this will continue to errode the public’s trust in journalistic works. The problem is, once people realize this and think about course-correcting, it will be too late, and visual journalism will have been dealt a mortal blow around the world.

PDNPulse first reported, in New York Times Withdraws Posed News Photo (5/19/08), about the photo above, and the Times’ withdrawal of the photograph, including an apology that PDN ran.”

I used to do assignments for the Times over the years. In fact I believe my first assignment was back in 1981. The going rate for a days assignment was $200. The last time I worked for them was a few years ago and the rate more than 20 years later was still $200. I stopped because they stopped paying for the expenses of making the photos like reimbursement for film and digital processing they used to pay for and then a year later they demanded that all freelance photographers who wish to get work from them sign a contract that gave them the right to uses the photos again without paying any compensation, and they wanted to sell the rights to use the pictures to third parties and take a 50% share of the third party payment. I think my memory is correct on these details. I am sorry to see how they treat photographers because otherwise I enjoy reading their paper. It is sad that some succumb to the temptation to make their photos more sexy by staging news pictures in the hope of getting a good reputation as a photojournalist. All it takes is getting caught once to lose it all. This is only the most recent incident we have heard about.

Go to John’s excellent blog Photo Business News & Forum to ready the whole thing. It is at