Life in the Vineyard: A Book Project

Vineyards. For me, being in the vineyard is like a fish in water, it’s completely natural. In a previous life I was a Frenchman and I really think my work back then (1930/40s) was in the vineyard and winery. Now, fast-forward to the late 1990s; I owned a 60-acre farm in southern Wisconsin and on a gently sloped ridge to the southeast I planted my vineyard. The wine grapes I grew were French hybrids designed to withstand the prolonged cold temperatures of the northern-tier states. Foch, Millot, and Seyval Blanc were the red and white varietals for wine; I did have some table grapes in there also, such as Edelweiss and Concord.

Working in the vineyard was hard work, but mentally, it was a time of meditation and mental relaxation. Often times I think it was the only thing that kept me sane while I photographed food for my livelihood. Everything about vineyard life I enjoyed, from the fresh smell of plowed earth to pruning and tying the vines on the trellis wires. Speaking of trellis systems, the one I used was called a GDC—Geneva Double Curtain.

Ever since I had that vineyard in Wisconsin, I’ve had this driving desire to publish a book that would combine my passion for photography with that of vineyards and wineries. This past summer I met the owners of Baltimore Bend Vineyard, near Waverly, Missouri. After a couple of conversations and knocking around some ideas, I’m photographing and writing a book about their vineyard and winery. I’m following the yearly circle of life in their beautiful vineyard, not far from the Missouri River. When it’s finished, I plan to publish a book of about 80 pages mostly of photographs, but also of text telling their story. What’s also been great about this book project is that three of my students (Matt, Rosie, and Phil) from the university are working with me, learning about the complexity of book publishing.

Every time I go into the Baltimore Bend Vineyard, it’s like a sense of déjà vu, taking me to a time when I was a grape farmer in France, or Wisconsin, or wherever reality may be!

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

Baltimore Bend Vineyard

© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby


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One comment

  1. Love these shots!! Such a calmness and serene feeling to them, as well as great color. The composition is also unique in many of the shots and not the boring old-school composition you see so often. Can’t wait to start our project!! Enjoy the rest of your break

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