The brief for this job was straight forward: Show the people and personalities behind San Pedro Apostol, a co-operative wine-maker based in Huércanos, near Nájera, 20km from Logroño, La Rioja. “I want the photos to reveal the love that these people put into wine making,” Sergio Fernández, of Icono Gráfico, told me in his office in Logroño. “Namely, these hands make this wine.”
San Pedro Apostol co-operative has 380 members who tend 3,000 plots around Huércanos, spreading to Nájera and towards Cenicero. It’s a highly-tuned operation that produces around 5m litres of wine a year. The co-operative’s old website and publicity photos concentrated on its profesional image, showing a modern winery full of stainless steel tanks.
But it said little about the spirit of the people involved. The plots are mostly family-owned and run. Relatives travel from across Spain to help out at key points of the year. Many plots have been in the family for generations.
We decided that I’d photograph José Domingo and his family during the growing season from early summer to harvest. I visited the annual members’ dinner, held beside the tanks in the winery, The following month I went to the village’s summer festival, meeting José Domingo’s family from Catalonia. And of course a lot of the photos concentrated on the harvest.
There are many ways to market wine and distinguish one bottle from the next. But, to me, showing the character, philosophy and dedication of those who make it trumps all others.