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George Rose’s Vine-Art Photography

Photojournalist Documents Rugged Beauty in ‘Wine Country Santa Barbara County’

Photo: CourtesyPhotojournalist George Rose turned his camera on the landscapes of Santa Barbara wine country for his latest book.

A salmon-tinted sun rises over the oaks of Happy Canyon. Feathery tendrils of fog cling to the peaks of the Purisima Hills. Field workers labor in the dark to bring pendulous clusters of pinot noir to harvest.

George Rose captures this remarkable array of images in Wine Country: Santa Barbara County, a thoughtfully arranged large-format photography book showcasing a comprehensive collection of the area’s wine appellations, trails, and tasting rooms.

Rose, an accomplished photojournalist and former public relations analyst for the wine industry, considers the Santa Barbara wine region’s “Western dustiness” to be its distinctive feature.

“There is a Western edge,” said Rose. “I’m talking about the cattle, the cowboys, the vaqueros, the tri-tip, and the dryness of the valley where the grapes are grown. You don’t get that in Sonoma, and you don’t get that in Napa.”

This Western ruggedness, and its attendant lack of pretense, is well represented in the book’s 188 pages. We see a pale horse grazing amid an expanse of dark soil, a sun-bleached barn rising from a meadow dense with wildflowers, and Rancheros Visitadores cutting a trail through the golden grass of Solvang’s backcountry. Rose also depicts the urban counterpart to these pastoral scenes as he trains his lens on happy patrons raising glasses and talking wine in tasting rooms throughout Buellton, Solvang, and the Funk Zone. 

The highlights of the book, however, are Rose’s stunning natural landscapes, each a snapshot of the ephemeral beauty that tends to elude less tenacious photographers.

“To be a true landscape photographer requires an incredible obsession with patience,” Rose explained. “And so I’ll wait, understanding that when the sun goes down or before the sun rises, there’s just that moment where there’s drama in the colors. And I obsess a little bit about that, because you have to go find it.”


4•1•1 | Wine Country: Santa Barbara County ($80) is available for order at georgerose.com. Rose will sign books at Grassini Family Vineyard’s tasting room (24 El Paseo) on Thursday, October 3, at 5 p.m.

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