vineyard by prokudin gorsky

Here’s a rare treat on this blog: a twofer! This photo may look a lot like other vineyards I’ve done in the Planet Wine series, until you learn something about the photo itself: it was taken about 1910, and possibly as early as 1905, in Tsarist Russia. The stunning color and depth of clarity, so real you want to reach out and touch the vines, marks this picture as an extreme rarity for the time it was taken. This is the work of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, an art photographer who was active in the early 20th century. I featured a previous one of his photos here, and it’s just as amazing. His color photography process was every bit the equal of modern photographic techniques. As you can plainly see, the picture above would look exactly the same if it was taken with a digital camera in 2010!

I’m not sure where this vineyard is, but what educated speculation I could find surrounding this photo suggests that it could be on the Crimean Peninsula, in what was then–and, since Putin got his hands on it, is now again–Russia. There aren’t a lot of places in Russia where you can grow wine, so I’d say that’s a pretty good guess. Who knows what great vintages might have come from these vines a century ago, or what happened to the people who might have drank them. Only a few short years after this picture was taken the Russian Revolution began, sending the country into one of the most profound social upheavals in history. Scarcely a person in Russia wasn’t deeply affected by it. It certainly did affect Prokudin-Gorsky; he fled Russia in 1918 and died in Paris in 1944.

I wonder if this vineyard still exists! It’d be interesting to know.

This image is in the public domain.