New Zealand has some of the most beautiful wine regions found anywhere on the planet.
Perhaps it’s not surprising then to find a winemaker in the middle of them capturing those landscapes with his camera.
Just as wine is a conduit for conveying the relationship between nature and ourselves, a photograph can do the same.
Kevin Judd from Greywacke had never thought of himself of an artist, but he does enjoy the combination of senses and science. He was drawn to photography as a boy, intrigued by the darkroom process set up by his father in their garage.
As Cloudy Bay was being established he took it upon himself to take some snapshots of the start-up for wine magazines. A fortuitous meeting with Mick Rock from Cephas Picture Library in the UK meant Kevin found his photographs being published. This inspired him to take things further.
The heyday of stock images waned, and Kevin left Cloudy Bay, all his spare time taken up establishing Greywacke.
But in the interim he created the book ‘The Landscape of NZ Wine”, which remains one of the most beautiful wine books ever published.
You’ll still find him in vineyards, fascinated by the perspective and composition they allow. Human made straight lines in natural environments, converging parallels and shadows created by vines.
He describes some of his photos as preconceived and others as ‘spur of the moment’ shots. Winemaking also has its serendipitous moments, and finding that balance between control and letting go is an important one, Kevin muses.
Over the years he’s realized that what was once thought of as non-negotiable in winemaking isn’t at all, and experience has taught him to define what needs to be done, and what not to worry about.
He does see one big difference between winemaking and photography though, perhaps in the contemplation of mortality.
While a captured image is there forever, wine has a life cycle; it changes to the point that it’s not consumable at the end of its life. His 1983 Selaks Sem/Sauvignon Blanc he opened recently was past it, and he laments its transient nature means that the next generation won’t be able to taste this part of New Zealand’s wine history.
But perhaps history will be kind, and consider immortality for Kevin Judd for both his passions.
Pinot Noir NZ 2017 is running a competition until the end of May 2016 for the best photograph from Vintage 2016. You can enter your own photo by using the hashtag #PinotNoirNZ, and you can vote on the photos entered here.