The Origins of Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked

The initial conversation about creating a documentary film happened by chance during dinner after shooting a television commercial for one of my clients.  My name is Brad Johnson and I’m part of the team that is making an independent documentary film about the Iowa Wine Industry.  After shooting a holiday spot for a joint client the filming crew (MVP Video Productions) and me and my wife, Jill, went out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.

We’d been first acquainted several months earlier when filming the first of several TV spots and this time we decided to go out for dinner afterwards.  During dinner we all were talking about photography, filming and it was by chance that Kirk Monson (MVP) and I (Brad) got on the subject of bucket-lists and we’d both talked about documentary film making.  For me it was just a dream but for Kirk, who’d been a film maker for his adult life, it was something he wanted to devote more time on.  That’s about as far as the conversation went that night.

Meeting
One of the early meetings (Brad and Kirk (l-r) with Jeff on speaker) where we are talking about the upcoming shoot at the Mid-American Wine Competition.

A few months later when we were working together again for a mutual client I brought up the idea again to both Jeff and Kirk (both from MVP) and I mentioned my knowledge and interest in the Iowa Wine Industry and that it’d make a really interesting subject for a documentary.  You see Iowa is a lot like California wine industry was in the early days.   Currently there are about 100 wineries in Iowa and winemakers are growing grapes that you won’t find in traditional wine growing regions.  Growing grapes in the heartland is tough, with hot and humid summers and wickedly cold winters.  Traditional grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay couldn’t make it through our winters.  Alas, there are hybrid grapes that allow wine growers the benefit of grapes that have a historical and genetic relationship to the famous grapes but are hybridized with grapes that can tolerate extreme temperatures.

Making wines from these “cold-hardy” grapes is a game changer for the region.  The grapes we grow here are fantastic but also challenge winemakers in ways that making wine from traditional grapes don’t.

The story we’ll ultimately tell will evolve as we gain new and additional insights from the families that are growing grapes and making wine, from the industry leaders in academia, and the professional wine judges who’ve noticed the wines coming out of the heartland and are excited.  We invite you to follow us on our film making journey, ask you to contribute when we launch our crowd-source fundraising effort, and tell your friends about us.

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