In & Above the Corn

The Midwest is known for many things and agriculture, mostly corn and soybeans, is at the top of many peoples list.  So, as we think about our film, wanting to contextualize what it’s like to create a wine industry in the middle of the heartland, we thought it’d be fitting to shoot some footage of life during harvest.

The Spring (planting) and Fall (harvest) are two of the most busy times of the year and yesterday, with the help our drone pilot and videographer Jeff Fitzgerald, we visited a couple fields were the corn harvest was underway.  Below are a few photos taken, enjoy!

Combine harvesting corn crop
Combine harvesting corn crop
Crystal blue October skies at harvest in Iowa
Dusty and cool as the setting sun inches toward the horizon.
Jeff, drone pilot, views the transmitted image from the drone as he controls the remote control camera.  Do you see the drone above the harvester?
Last photo of the day as the farmers finish the last pass.  Do you see the drone?

Film Grows in Scope

Hello Wine Friends!

Our team has been discussing the notion of expanding the scope of the film since we first started talking about Wine Diamonds.  From the outset we understood the story of the Iowa wine industry would be limited by the fact that so much of what’s happening in the Midwest was spread across the region and not only in Iowa.

For example, early pioneers in wine grape development (e.g., Elmer Swenson) and programs (e.g, University of Minnesota – grape breeding program) and other people and institutions across the region have all been instrumental in this phenomenal growth of new varietals and exceptional wines.

So, even as we were filming we were questioning if limiting our story to Iowa would do a disservice to this new wine region.  And while the Iowa wine industry is near and dear to my heart, telling this story without including the other wine pioneers, grape breeders and institutional researchers would only be a “part” of the story.

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™

What does this mean for our film?  Our goal remains the same, to place a spotlight on winery families that have returned to the Midwest to grow a new wine industry and to tell a compelling story.  We’re very excited to continue to work with our Iowa winery families and are also excited to expand the conversation to other neighboring states.

With your help we’ll identify winery families in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois.  This list may expand (Michigan?) or contract depending on our filming schedule and interest expressed by nearby states.  We’d love to talk with the winegrower associations in each state, meet with industry officials, academics from institutions of higher learning and complete this film with a comprehensive understanding of this new and exciting wine region.  Send your nominations or suggestions to Brad Johnson –

Thanks for your interest and support!


Pause in Filming and Expansion?

After a very busy start to our filming calendar we’re in a bit of a lull right now.  We’re busy doing many behind-the-scenes activities that don’t translate well into pretty photographs or necessarily interesting stories.  For example, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing the footage we’ve already shot (e.g., review, coding – trying to make sense and catalog everything that’s been recorded), preparing a fundraising campaign that includes gifts to those who donate, and preparing to shoot the “pitch-piece” – the video we’ll place on our crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, in the coming weeks.

After meeting with David O’Shields we’ve been thinking seriously about expanding the scope of our film to include neighboring states as well.  One of the reasons is the Iowa wine industry has benefited significantly by the work done by individuals and academic institutions (located in adjacent states) in the development of the many of the grapes we grow and enjoy in Iowa.

Our main focus (families coming together to build a wine industry) would remain the same we’d just increase the breadth of the film.  Here are a couple of the stories that we feel are important to the overall story: 1) Elmer Swenson , pioneering grape breeder from Wisconsin and 2) University of Minnesota grape breeding program.

What are your thoughts and who else should we consider?  Thanks!