We have some wonderful friends near Wabasha, Minnesota that have a vineyard on the bluff above the Mississippi River. Each year we journey south to help with the harvest, and today the grapes were calling us. We left the Twin Cities with a clear sunrise, but as we headed towards the river the fog became thicker and thicker. Even when we got to Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi is so wide it’s called a lake, there was no lake to see. I love to photograph in the fog because it can create a clean palette to work with designs and lines, and we stopped along our trip so I could do just that. But as we headed up the bluff, away from the river to the vineyard, we broke out into the sunshine once again. Some of the trees in the area are just starting to show some yellows and golds for fall colors. From the top of the bluff I was amazed to see the layers in this photograph: the grape vines are loaded with grapes, the trees are showing some color, the Mississippi River is socked in with fog, and the Wisconsin bluffs are visible on the other side with blue sky above. It was a beautiful day to be outside picking grapes, visiting our friends and the others that were gathered to help with the harvest.
As fall starts its arrival in Minnesota the days grow shorter, the nights are cooler, and the harvests begin. For the past few years we’ve helped some friends in the Wabasha area with their grape harvest. On a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, they have a beautiful vineyard that’s expanded every year. Last weekend we spent a day with friends and family picking grapes for this year’s harvest. Our work began under an overcast sky. After a couple of hours we stopped for a lunch break, only to look outside and see it raining. We continued harvesting in the rain for a few hours (not a problem except for the rain drops that ran down our arms when we’d reach up to cut the grape clusters), and then the clouds cleared and the sun came out leaving the grapes glistening with the rain. These are Frontenac grapes, a variety bred by the University of Minnesota and known for its cold-hardiness. As the sun started its descent to the horizon we left the vineyard feeling good about a full-day’s work outside. We shared a wonderful meal with our fellow grape-harvesters and then headed home with gallons of fresh-squeezed grape juice to enjoy in the upcoming months.