Yesterday I had my thinking cap on and was trying to come up with compelling cover image ideas for our winter issue of Boheme, a pocket guide to retailers, wineries, breweries and spas in the North Bay. I want a photograph to evoke winter in the North Bay and wine country, something visually appealing but not too staged or phony. A couple walking through a yellow-leafed vineyard with sweaters on? Someone sipping a cup of hot chocolate? A crab boat?
Then I saw the cover of the new Sonoma magazine. The magazine is generally quite beautiful with lavish photography, attractive layout and well-written articles that seem designed for the nightstands of affluent guests at the Hotel Healdsburg. But this issue’s cover image killed me. It looked like a parody of J Crew catalog: an old pickup truck with a holiday wreath on the grill and precariously stacked presents on the roof. At the wheel is what looks like an adorable springer spaniel. You know, just your typical wine country scene. I guess the owner of the vintage truck was driving through his vineyard on his way to deliver his cargo of handmade and sustainable gifts to all his fellow winemaker friends while his beloved dog waited in the cab. He better watch his speed though because those presents are threatening to topple over at any moment.
The wine county is a place, but also a trope that’s built on mythologized images of bucolic bliss and rustic charm. I’ve never seen a better example of this fantasy than Sonoma mag’s current cover.