Depth of Field: WineHaven

Photographer Mike Ekern explored WineHaven, a Chisago City winery and vineyard run by Kyle Peterson.

I pulled into WineHaven at 6:30 on a misty September morning. Nestled on the outer edge of five lakes and Chisago City, the vineyard and winery was kicking off its three- to four-day harvest. Picture opportunities were ... plentiful, to say the least. Alum Kyle Peterson ’98, ’04 M.B.A. gave me the run of the place and I happily wandered off into the vine rows and forests that fill WineHaven. For hours it was nothing but good light, the click of the shutter and the rustle of vegetation. Having spent the last two months in front of a computer cleaning up shoots from the previous semester, this was a gift.

I worked that light and those scenes until 1 a.m. the next day with pauses for lunch and to haul a few bins of grapes onto a truck with production assistant Jason Baalke. Peterson graciously spent an hour of that time posing for portraits in the evening light and then watched, excited curiosity in his eyes, as I started the camera running for the two-hour time lapse you see below (we went out for burgers during the middle hour of the camera run). For the technically minded among you, it's not a straight time exposure but rather a series of 236 30-second exposures stacked together with computer software.

When I flopped into my hotel bed at 1:30 a.m. the memory cards in my cameras contained more than 1,000 images. Eighty percent of those didn't make the cut and have been tossed to the digital winds beyond the Windows recycling bin. The 11 below represent some of my favorites among the remaining 200. The others? Even if they're never seen, they'll be there to remind me of what a joy it was to take them  to be alone with light, lens and effort.

Star Trails over WineHaven

Click to read more about Tommie alums who have had success with the grape.



Read more from St. Thomas magazine and Depth of Field.