Mapping Napa Vineyards

Tricycle Wine Partners final map of Obsidian Ridge and Poseidon Vineyards

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:

First sketch for Tricycle Wine Partners
First Sketch

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:

Tricycle Wine illustrated map
Sketch 2 – New perspective

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:

Clarification sketch for tricycle wineries vineyard maps
Sketch 3 – Checking the new layout

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:

Tricycle Wine Partners Line Art map
Final Line Art

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:

Tricycle Wine Partners final map of Obsidian Ridge and Poseidon Vineyards
The Final Map

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.

7 thoughts on “Mapping Napa Vineyards”

  1. I would love to know how you would use a topographical map to make a map in this style. I have been struggling with one I had in mind for a year or so now. Great work.


        This is the topo map I had been working with. All of my work is on scratch pads where I was testing ways to show height. None of them looked acceptable. The map you just posted has exactly the visual look I had been gunning for. I tried your mountain tutorial, and I was fairly successful in drawing a random set of mountains based on the topo map, but they didn’t resemble it.

  2. I tried to draw something simillar to this one, but as i painted i started to add new things and in the end got different result.

    Anyway, I put most of your technics into this. Its not perfect, but i see some progress so i thought i would post it.

    Thank you again for sharing your knowledge. This site is great database.

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