Not all my maps are of fantasy lands – every now and again, one comes along from the real world. Before Christmas I was asked to map the Mayacamas mountain range for Tricycle Wine Partners, a vineyard in California.
The brief was to show to Mayacamas mountains, and include San Francisco in the map. The map should be an illustrative overview of the mountain range, and have both the Poseidon Vineyard (by the sea, near San Francisco Bay) and Obsidian Ridge Vineyard. This is a healthy distance of 104 miles as the car drives. The map needed to highlight the elevation differences between the vineyards, and make the mountains the hero of the piece. Finally, the map should work in a brochure, as a mural, and as an interactive map on the website, and ideally show the different wine appellations.
Here’s the first sketch that I sent over:
I liked this view as it brought the mountains across the page, allowing their line to fill the piece, and highlighting the closer vineyard. The perspective placed San Francisco in the background, and the triangular space provided by the Pacific Ocean gave some room that could be used for the vineyard detail callouts.
The feedback was that the style was close to what was needed, but the mountains needed to be more prominent, and the layout needed to be more horizontal. Here’s the next iteration:
Here the mountains take up a clear horizontal path through the map, and the ridgeline is picked out as a specific feature. We get both the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Feedback here was again that the style was good, but the mountains needed more emphasis. At this stage I went back to quick sketching to clarify what was needed:
This was my favourite of four different very quick thumbnail sketches of the layout. In reality, I should have started at this level of detail to begin with. This was the favourite layout, as we get San Francisco back in, and the Mayacamas are clearly the star of the show. At this stage, realism has been left behind, as the mountains are clearly far too large for the horizontal distance. The challenge in taking this layout and creating a final map was to tone down the ‘fantastical’ nature of the mountains and have it blend into a coherent map of California.
That took a little work, but by now I had a signed off layout as a solid foundation. Here’s the result:
The mountains display a level of heightened reality, without totally breaking any suspension of disbelief. Once this was signed off, the last request was for a touch of colour:
And that was that! The second half of the project was to create the interactive for the website. This was done with a minimum of fuss, and a fair amount of jquery. You can see the finished interactive live on the TWP website.