Wine, dogs, photos: 'That's a trifecta for me,' says photographer

Aliki Salmas spent 4 years photographing vineyard dogs in idyllic settings like Penticton and Kelowna.

Aliki Salmas spent 4 years photographing vineyard dogs in idyllic settings like Penticton and Kelowna

The key to keeping a dog still? Treats and squeaky toys, Salmas says. (Aliki Salmas)

It's dogs, wine and sunshine all rolled into one.

That's the motif of Aliki Salmas' latest coffee table book, Vineyard Dogs of the Okanagan, which features heart-melting photos of farm dogs in idyllic settings such as Penticton, Summerland and Kelowna.

They're rolling in the fields, patrolling past the huge steel vats and sitting on everything from picnic tables to upturned barrels to tractors.

"Winemakers are farmers. There's always dogs in the vineyards because there's always dogs on the farm," Salmas told North By Northwest host Sheryl MacKay.

"You can't make wine without a dog." 

Listen to the full interview below. 

Photographer Aliki Salmas has combined several of her passions in this new coffee table book. 12:15

Photos paired with poetry

The idea came to Salmas in an obvious setting: Napa Valley.

She stumbled across a book in a shop and was instantly drawn to its cover, which featured a dog in a winery.

"This is kind of a cool way to meld a few of my passions," she said. "I love wine. I love dogs and I'm a photographer. That's a trifecta for me."

"Winemakers are farmers," Salmas says. "There’s always dogs in the vineyards, because there’s always dogs on the farm." (Aliki Salmas)

After holding off on the project for years, Salmas decided to shoot photos in the Okanagan.

She later solicited the poetry and writing of a colleague, Christian Hannigan, to pair with the pictures.

The style of her shoots depended on the winemakers.

Some gave Salmas free reign. During one memorable session, Salmas was picked up in a quad and driven to the top of the vineyard with the dog running alongside her.

On another visit, she photographed a dog jumping in and out of a pool.

Some winemakers gave Salmas free reign during her shoots. (Aliki Salmas)

'I like most dogs more than I like most people'

The book sounds like an easy sell, but Salmas says the idea took some convincing.

Salmas grew up in Jasper and recalls a moment where she revealed her ambitions to her friend's mother.

"She laughed at me and she's like, 'Who's going to buy photos of dogs?'" Salmas said.  

"I was living in Vancouver at the time. Their dogs are children. She didn't get it."

Dogs are 'true, gentle, beautiful, soulful beings.' (Aliki Salmas)

That mentality continued as Salmas studied photography at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.

Classmates warned her to stay clear of dogs and babies, notoriously hard subjects to photograph.

Salmas ignored them all.

"I know it's so cliché, but I like most dogs more than I like most people," she said.

"Photographing them … they're themselves 100 per cent. They're true, gentle, beautiful soulful beings."

Now, she has some tips to pass on to classmates. Treats and toys are key to keeping them still, she says.

If that doesn't work?

"I make the craziest sounds trying to get their attention," Salmas laughs.

Salmas says you can’t make wine without a dog. (Aliki Salmas)

With files from CBC's North by Northwest