The Wine-Soaked Lens of Matt Wilson.

I discovered Matt’s work on Instagram and I follow his posts on @matt.wilson.gc with tremendous anticipation. Matt Wilson’s wine photography always brings some striking visceral joy. In most of his photographs the joy comes from the sheer beauty of the shot but in some of them it comes from sharing a moment of anarchy. There is an element of surprise and warped humour to be found in Matt’s portfolio as we shall see.

This is Matt’s wife, Andrea Leon of Casa Lapostolle in Chile. As it is for every winemaker, communion with the barrels is part of the never-ending cycle. The art and science of winemaking are equally important as the winemaker monitors the chemistry of the wines and the subtle sensory attributes as well.

Capturing the Sublime and the Messy

Matt is a professional photographer. He lives in Chile and is married to Andrea Leon, the winemaker at Casa Lapostolle Wines. Matt specializes in photographing wine people and places and is highly sought after in the wine world. He is the winner of numerous photography awards and is widely published in magazines like Wine Enthusiast and Vanity Fair. As an admirer of his work, I asked Matt if we could do an article featuring his photographs for The Wine Beat. He agreed and provided photos but he handed me the reins for putting together the dialogue. Matt is clearly a risk taker … but here is my homage to his art.

Matt has the genius skill that great photographers have of being able to convey a continuing narrative in a still image – as though physical movement and passage of time flows within the shot. Not a snapshot in time but a whole progression of time in a single frozen frame … allowing all of the greater context of place and human emotion to be transmitted in that single frame. Just look at the photo of Count Francesco Marone on his horse – sitting motionless while the horse flies. Or Grant Phelps with wine and wood splinters spitting. Or the vineyard workers moving along a row of grape vines in steady husbandry.

Abiding calm and control astride a horse in full, floating gallop.
What a cool composition.  I have no idea how Matt catches moments like this. Neither have I any clue how to cultivate the grace and composure of Count Francesco Marone.  
The Count has vineyards in Montalcino and, as here, at the Erasmo Caliboro Winery in Chile.

A Wallop of Madness

One of the defining features of Matt Wilson’s wine photography is the careening juxtaposition of styles. He goes from a sublimely beautiful landscape to a mischievously violent action shot and then to a respectfully passionate portrait.  All are joyful but sometimes they are charged with a graffiti artist’s vandalism. They might portray abiding calm or a playful sense of imminent disaster. Matt sometimes revels in warping perspective and applying extreme exaggeration to his subject matter – like the idea that a winemaker should hold wine (literally) not the bottle.

Have a look at the photos below to see what I mean. His portraits of people working in the vineyard convey real love and respect and make their labour noble. His photos of wine landscapes are deeply serene testaments to his love of the places. And then there is this distinguishing part of his portfolio where a comic book madness and a deviant attraction to violence takes his creative urge. It’s a perspective on wine that exists nowhere else. He takes the sensory hedonism of wine and then runs 10,000 volts through it to see what the most gonzo far reaches might be like … apparently some of Matt’s friends are quite weird.

Matt’s People

Vineyard Workers and the Carménère Harvest at Casa Silva Winery.

I like this photo because of its stark colourful clarity and the way the vineyard
crew are lifted up into a commanding position. 
They are overseeing the vines – and the success of the vineyard.

Winter Pruning at William Fevre Winery in Maipo.

There is peace in this photo and
the sense of satisfaction in symmetry and the careful execution of the work.
Pruning vines in winter is hard work but there is always satisfaction in finishing a row – and particularly in looking back on vines neatly prepared for the new growing season.

Matt’s Mad Friends

Grant Phelps Making Clear How He Feels About Over-Oaked Wines.

Grant Phelps is Matt’s maddest subject and is a winemaker as well as the proprietor
of the brilliant WineBox Hotel in Valparaiso (Instagram @gran.pel). Matt sacrificed a MacBook and a very expensive lens in the making of this iconic photo.

Alien Abduction In Progress.

This is Fred Dexheimer, a Master Sommelier and good friend of Matt’s.
What brilliant mind would compose this – a somm being sucked up into the sky?
Matt Wilson of course. He shot this under the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago.

The Return of the Wine-Punk Angel

Grant Phelps again – doing something of a Pete Townsend kick I think
(but in this case with his chosen instrument, the wine bottle, instead of a guitar).

Matt’s Places

Sunset On The Elqui Valley in Northern Chile

The Elqui Valley, looking north from the town of Pisco at sundown.
The striking convergent bands of colour (green in the Syrah vines and purple in a sliding evening sky) are forever separated by the dry-grey mountains of the Elqui Valley .

Sunset on the Cachapoal Valley

Vineyards at Altair Winery in Cachapoal Chile.
The vibrant colours and the horizon that stretches away forever due to the low camera angle give a peaceful vision of the infinite.

Early Morning, San Javier

Still and quiet in San Javier in the Maule Valley.
The ramparts of the Andes looming in watchful waiting for the valley to wake up.

Find Matt’s work at and on his Instagram account @matt.wilson.gc and on Twitter @Photos_in_Chile. Please send a comment to let us know how much you enjoyed Matt’s photography!

For more content on Chile check out these pages from The Wine Beat.

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6 Thoughts

    1. I’m really glad you enjoyed it Laurie! Matt is a unique and original talent and it was a privilege to have him share his art with The Wine Beat. Laurie, do you think we should do similar artist profiles in the future? Is that the kind of content you think people enjoy? Cheers! Craig.

      1. I hope it brought back good memories! And I hope you liked the exposé on Matt’s photography, it’s one of our most popular posts. If you like any of the other content please let me know! Craig.

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