In between my bloviating about things I think I know about, I like to throw in personal interest stories of characters and friends found through wine. Yes, wine has this great ability to lead you into rooms with extraordinary people you would otherwise not be invited. So wine, besides being the greatest of beverages, can act as a doorway to a world maybe unknown to you…To a place of higher thinking, and experiences that otherwise would be foreign, never to have entered one’s life. The truth is, many great people love wine and they sometimes even accept you as a friend. Let me tell you a story of such an encounter and friendship.
I found myself in Napa Valley a few years back (yes, I know people in Cabernet land) with some friends at a table in St Helena. There were six of us total as I remember it and knew most everyone. I will not mention all who were there because this article is focused on just a single encounter. The interesting part of this is, I was there to hire a new Distributor in another state, while a dear friend who was with me works for the same company I was, well…firing. It’s easy to misunderstand or misread a room when you don’t have all the facts but the person I am writing about did not like me very much after our first meeting, and that’s somewhat putting it mildly. He thought me to be too harsh letting my distributor go and at the same time hiring the other. It was not until some time later that he realized all was well in the world and I was not that big of a jerk. The great power of wine won the day and it’s influence prevailed to give me, without me knowing, a second chance. Got to love a liquid that acts at times like an ambassador. This gentleman (which I will reveal soon) loved our wines and figured the hell with me because the wine was much more important. So he accepted an invitation to our humble little winery and the rest is history.
I met Greg Gorman that day, one of the most talented men in the world and a true artist. Who is he? Those that don’t dabble in photography are asking. Greg Gorman is the quintessential and most influential Hollywood photographer of our generation. He has taken photos of many of the greatest Stars of our time and there are many who wait in line to have his talents bestowed upon them. Greg’s a Master of his trade making his camera take such art that it defies one’s senses when you receive the electric input from your visionary impulses to your brain. I have been known to kid Greg and accuse him of being more magician than artist. That’s because the end results are sometimes out of the spectrum of reality, or more simply put just too damn great to be real. But his work is real. He even took a few shots while he was enjoying a glass of wine of me. I don’t really look that good but throw in the right light, take the right angle and have a master at the wheel and presto! Even a toad can be turned into a prince.
Greg’s body of work is immense – so much so that long after he leaves this world and starts shooting in another dimension people will be left with a piece of his brilliance to enjoy. That may be the single most important thing to be measured by. Your so called legacy whether it’s your body of work or the imprint on others psyche leaving them something to talk about. In this, Greg is fully covered for he has left us all a lifetime of enjoyment. There are those that stare and wonder why. Other’s stare and say why not? Greg has always been the latter with a vision and drive not often found in his world. He grabbed the ring and made it count. How many of us can say the same?
But as Greg would not want me to go on and on about his brilliance, instead electing his other passion, wine. Yes, this giant of his industry has the wine bug so much so he was just featured in the Wine Spectator talking of his second life and his future. You see Greg has also become a producer. Greg collects wine, shoots labels and now is making the stuff. Greg Gorman Wines was launched and he makes some damn fine Cabernet blends for those lucky enough to get a bottle. I’m still waiting for my allocation? Being what we call “Type A”, he is very serious about the project and personally gets involved from start to finish on all aspects of the operation, especially the blending process. His harsh evaluation of every barrel is the same approach he would take if he were critically assessing one of his prints.
I have had more than my share of opportunity to meet some of the world’s most interesting people. I am not, and never will be, star struck. Instead I prefer to judge people by the measure of their heart. If that were a true barometer, then Greg would win another award. For his chest cavity is not large enough to hold that blood pumping organ…it has to be folded over to fit. He is, by nature, shy until he gets to know you. As with many artists, once that confidence is earned he’s one of the most vibrant people you would ever want to be with. A sense of humor like my own and over the top fun to be around. If you were with Greg for an evening and did not get to see him again for several months it would be like you never left. Just a slight catch up of his fascinating life and back to the comfort zone.
There’s not many places this man has not visited and finding him home is increasingly more difficult. But when the chance arises I try not to miss my turn for the regret to not do so would be agonizing. So the next time you see a picture of a hollywood stud, or a magnificent babe or maybe a billboard for the next big movie or maybe your favorite sunglasses campaign, look closely. It may be Greg.
Go to Greg Gorman Photography on Google for a look. Also Greg has many books in print which if interested, you can contact him through the website to purchase. And who knows? You might even get a chance to taste his wine. Lord knows I’m still waiting.
Till next we meet,