Voyaging: Ice Wine Harvest
Wine Country Workers in Winter
When the temperatures reach a balmy 15-18 degrees Fahrenheit for 24-48 hours, it’s time to harvest grapes for ice wine. Chateau Chantal is a winery on Old Mission Peninsula and they do wines extremely well, in fact, they’re one of the first wineries in the region.
On the coattails of the previous post, this was another self-assigned shoot that was too good to pass up, impossible actually. The cold, frigid conditions of winter really do make for excellent photos. Once the mercury plummets, it seems like everything and everyone transitions into this state of surviving and thriving and beauty all around. This can be said for any extremes and this is Michigan is no different.
Pro Tip: If you’re wondering about photographing something or someone, just ask. The worst that can be said is no and you have everything to gain. Also, I’ve mentioned this before, always be honest and upfront. They asked who I was shooting for and for this I was shooting for myself and my portfolio, which was 100 percent true. People can read bullshit five states away or more so be honest and you’ll fare much better off.
After reaching out to the winery with my interest in photographing the harvest for ice wine grapes, they were extremely accommodating. In fact, they followed up with their promise to let me know a day in advance when they’d be harvesting. It’s temperature dependent so there was a fair bit of coordination here.
On my drive out to the winery on the morning of the harvest, the cold temps indeed resulted in a wonderful display over the frozen East Grand Traverse Bay. After pulling off into a park to capture a photo, I proceeded to the winery.
The harvest is pretty fast, maybe one to two hours at the absolute most, so it’s important to work and think quickly. I approached a couple of the workers because my plan was to capture some portraits. Scene setters and details were also important so once the portraits were obtained it was off for those elements of the shoot. Everyone was working hard and were extremely gracious and kind with their time. Also, everyone was game for a quick portrait. In an instance like this, it’s as if there’s a mutual respect and understanding that they, working hard in tough conditions, and me, also working hard at photographing, are outside in conditions most would flee from, and we’re outside doing what we must do. The access was easy on this morning and I tried to show complete reverence by photographing quickly and purposefully.
It was imperative that all batteries were charged because once the cold sets in, batteries can suffer with great speed. In the end, I was extremely satisfied with how the photos from the morning worked out.