TR Napa Valley

It’s easy to see why I love Napa. It’s a beautiful, natural environment with amazing scenery and light. When you’re there, you have the chance to watch the growing grapes that will eventually become the wine you drink. I like to know where my food and wine comes from, and there’s no better place to get up close and personal with the winemakers and their grapes than in Napa.

Since it’s not easy to fly to Napa often, I was eager to try the new TR Napa Valley wine bar that opened a few weeks ago in the Gold Coast. The location right on Ok Street makes it a perfect spot to take a break from a long day of holiday shopping on Michigan Avenue. TR is not really a restaurant, more like a bar that happens to have some cheese and, I’m told, will soon have charcuterie. I went in for drinks with a few friends, and despite the fact that there was no food, managed to rack up a pretty hefty bill drinking delicious California cabs.

The set-up of TR makes it the kind of place you can only go with one or two friends. The front area has bottles for retail sale, as well as a few tables where you can drink. The back bar only seats four people, but it’s the best place to sit if you want to really talk wine with the staff. Everything about the interior feels like California, right down to the oak barrel tables. Of course, what’s in your glass is the most important part. About 80 percent of the wine selection at TR is from California, and some of the bottles are fantastic. The only downside is that you’re going to have to pay for that quality, to the tune of $12-$25 per glass.

For my studio shot, I wanted to recreate the moment that the wine pour hits your glass. It’s when you get your first look at the deep color of the wine and catch your first smell of its bouquet. While red wine generally needs some time to open up in the glass, that first swirl of liquid can be really beautiful. To set up this complex shot, I needed the help of special effects master Geoff Binns-Calvey, who built an entire rig to create a continuous flow of wine. The best part of this shot is that in the end, it looks effortless, reminding you of the best days in Napa, spent drinking great wine surrounded by great company.

TR Napa Valley | 61 E. Oak Street | (312) 929-2299

The photo I shot of the wine on tap system at TR using my iPhone.
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