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Opinion

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Jerry Budrick
05/23/2014 10:08 AM

By Daniel D’Agostini

Guest Commentary

I

n last week’s Opinion, Stephen Curtis demonstrated a lack of awareness of our local history and totally got it wrong when he stated, “D’Agostini, on the other hand, chose to spend his life building his prosperity outside of the county. Now, after 30 years, he has returned to retire in his childhood home to realize his dreams of small town living.” This is misleading to the community and insulting to me.

The facts, are I stopped teaching in Dixon in 1978, and in 1979, moved back to Amador County and began working at my family’s winery. My address was P.O. Box 60, River Pines. I began constructing a studio and the building permit is still pinned to the wall of the handcrafted building that took me two years, working mainly alone, to complete. In 1982, I filed a business license in the county for D’Agostini Visual Communications. It was my vision to begin documenting the local people, new emerging winemakers, and our beautiful area with 35mm, medium and large format film.

Beginning in 1983, and every year after, my work was featured in regional wine magazines showing Amador County winemakers and our area. The June 9, 1985 issue of the Sunday Magazine of the old Sacramento Union featured a dramatic view of Ostrom Road on the cover for the lead article, “The Mother Lode, why flatlanders are flocking to the foothills.” The newly formed Amador Vintners Association used my images exclusively on their first brochure. I was championing our region through my lens.

In 1985, an $88,000 restoration grant was awarded by the Department of Parks and Recreation to Amador County to create a new roof, repair and stabilize the rammed earth walls, and rehabilitate the wooden structure attached to the back of the Chew Kee Store, in Fiddletown. Concerned that the delicate coverings of the walls would be damaged, I requested and secured permission to document the entire interior at my own expense. The large cibachrome prints I created became a traveling show that brought attention to the historic structure. In 1986, I was commissioned by the Amador County Historical Society to document the restoration of the Chew Kee Store.

In 1988, I introduced the work to the editors of Pacific Discovery, A Journal of Nature and Culture in the Pacific World, published by the California Academy of Sciences. In their Spring 1989 issue, “An Archive of Artifacts: The Chew Chee Store,” by Julia G. Costello and Daniel D’Agostini, was the cover story and was viewed by thousands of people throughout Northern California and the world.

If one looks at the photo bylines in two local books celebrating our county from the Images of America series, “Shenandoah Valley & Amador Wine Country,” by Kimberly Wooten and R. Scott Baxter, or, more recently, “Wineries of the Gold Country,” by Sarah Lunsford, one will see many Daniel D’Agostini images taken in the 80’s.

In 1984, I again began teaching, just across the county line, in Somerset, while maintaining my documentary photography work.

In 1986, I was married on the family ranch and became the father of two stepchildren. In May, 1989, I helped deliver my son, Quince, at home, and we soon moved to Yuba City, where I developed innovative school programs one can read about on www.electdagostini.com. In 2008, I retired early to care for my mother.

Even while away, I had photographic exhibits about the Chew Kee Store promoting our area. In 1996, my book, “Romance of the California Vineyards,” was published and featured many Shenandoah Valley wineries and quotes from our local winemakers.

Regarding his statement about the D’Agostini land holdings, Curtis again failed to do any research. The D’Agostini Winery was sold to the Sobon Family in 1989, and all the D’Agostini family lands were completely sold by the early 90’s. My sister and I own 4.7 acres surrounding our family home in the Shenandoah Valley and have no other properties in the county. It is where I live. I have minimal land conflicts.

Mr. Curtis, my advice is that of guru Sai Baba. Before speaking, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Does it improve upon the silence?

Copyright © 2014 Amador Ledger Dispatch
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