“On the Road” wins Motion Picture Award!

The producers of Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland is pleased to announce our “On the Road” web series has been nominated to receive an Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) Award!

UPDATE – The “On the Road” web series won an Award of Achievement from IMPA. WATCH!

IMPA-acrylic-artBeing named as an official nominee signifies that our entry was selected by a panel of IMPA judges as one of the top entries in a specific category. By being a nominee it means our web series has qualified to win either an Award of Achievement or an Award of Excellence. The highest-scoring entry in each category earns the Award of Excellence.

“On the Road” is a companion web series from the producers of the documentary film, Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland. “On the Road” offers a fresh perspective on the world of wine by exploring the new frontier of wine that’s happening in the Midwest. This new web series has multifaceted purposes: to explore the burgeoning new Midwestern wine region by introducing wine enthusiasts to some of the most exciting wines and winemakers in the region; to inform and educate wine fans about delicious wines grown and made in the heartland and discuss, in informal terms, much of the wine jargon used today; all wrapped in a package that’s fun, lighthearted and entertaining.

The Iowa Motion Picture Awards recognize outstanding creative and technical achievement in Iowa’s moving image production industry, in all its forms – including 21 program categories and 26 craft categories – directing, acting, cinematography, lighting, screenwriting, art direction, editing – and many more. There are two levels of recognition, the Award of Achievement and the highest Award of Excellence.

Kirk 2013
Kirk Monson accepts a 2014 IMPA Award of Excellence.

This is the first award recognition for the producers of Wine Diamonds; however, in past years Kirk Monson and Jeff Zahrt have both won top honors for exceptional work in documentary film production, television commercial production, and earned special recognition for writing and cinematography.

The 24th Annual Iowa Motion Picture Awards will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at the historic renovated Pella Opera House Theater Center, 611 Franklin, Pella, Iowa. The public is invited to join with Iowa filmmakers throughout the day and evening Saturday, May 2, in workshops, networking events, and the 24th Annual Gala Awards Ceremony, which is Iowa’s version of the Academy Awards.

We are humbled by the early recognition for this important project and we are grateful for the IMPA honor; and happily send our appreciation to the winery families we’ve met and interviewed, and we wish to acknowledge our full team of amazing, dedicated and creative volunteers:

Rob Bauer, Graphics and Cinematography
Jeff Fitzgerald, Aerial Cinematography
Shayna Grundey, Art/Graphics and Web Master
Pat Ganzer Holland, Social Media Booster
Rebekah Neuendorf, Social Media Booster
Carol Reed, Social Media Booster

Brad Johnson, Producer
Kirk Monson, Producer and Director of Cinematography
Jeff Zahrt, Producer


Road Trip to Minnesota & Wisconsin

OnTheRoad2The Wine Diamonds film crew will be hitting the road soon to spend a few days in Minnesota and Wisconsin filming at wineries and vineyards. We reached out to our wine industry network of friends to help us connect with some of the industry’s leaders, pioneers, up and comers, and a range of big and smaller operations. Big thanks to Mike White (Iowa State University, Viticulture Field Specialist) who provided an exhaustive list of exceptional contacts. Thanks Mike!

Our list is still coming together but we’ve got a great range of visits planned. The following locations are confirmed:

Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery (Kasota, MN)
Indian Island Winery & Winterhaven Vineyards (Janesville, MN)
Northern Vineyards Winery (Stillwater, MN)
Alexis Bailly Vineyard (Hastings, MN)
Great River Vineyard & Lake Pepin Winery (Lake City, MN)
Elmaro Vineyard (Trempealeau, WI)
Danzinger Vineyard (Alma, WI)

Depending on the amount of time spent at each winery we may add a few more stops during our 3 days of filming. Our goal is to be able to spend at least 2 hours with each winery (more at some, less at others).

We’re thrilled to be able to meet, interview and film at these wineries. Please show your support to those wineries that allow us access and show support to our film.


Vin Village Radio

Last week Wine Diamonds producer, Brad Johnson, was on the weekly Vin Village Radio program.  This national Internet radio program has a tremendous following and we were honored to be on Rob Barnett’s show.

Click here to LISTEN NOW!

Vine Village RadioSan Diego, CA based Vin Village is an exclusive lifestyle organization for wine and food lovers. VinVillage lets its members create locally based social wine groups to connect them with other “like-minded” wine lovers in their home towns and around the country, bringing the membership together with a fun and exciting local and online “wine life-style” experience offering unique and exclusive wines, events, products and services.

Welcome New Booster: Carol Clarke Reed

Booster Carol Clarke ReedWine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland is pleased to welcome Carol Clarke Reed to our Social Media Booster Team!

Carol and her younger brothers were born in California and raised in Iowa. “After graduating from my home town in Iowa, I moved to the East Coast; where I spent over twenty years of my life before returning to my hometown as a single parent to raise my daughter. About seven years later, I met my boyfriend. We toured wineries, planted grapes, listened to winery owners and grape growers share their experiences, traveled to conventions, remodeled and opened our own winery (Nearwood Winery) and tasting room in my home town. We were the only two for most of this journey in our wine business, with the exception of a few family and friends when it came to the harvesting time or when we needed extra help for large events. I loved the idea of being a partner of the wine tasting room, enjoyed distributing and marketing our wines. I appreciated our customers showing their support during their visits. Some of the earlier wine names came from my family stories. I loved watching the excitement of our customers when they heard the stories and tasted the wines. Unfortunately, recent circumstance necessitated me to end the winery venture.”

“I think Midwest Wines are awesome is because the winemakers and winery owners thrive to bring to life a combination of taste, experience and story; developing a diversity of wines. The Midwest climate changes challenge the winemakers, and trying to replicate wines year after year is nearly impossible.”

Please join us in welcoming Carol!


Donate now copyIf you’re a fan, enthusiast, lover, supporter or booster of local wine and want to help us make this movie – we want you! Your donation is very important to the success of this film. It takes a lot of time and resources to put together a feature-length documentary movie filmed across six states over the course of a year. In exchange for your generous donation we’ll set you up with some awesome perks! Listed below are just a few of our our perks, check out our IndieGoGo site for more and watch our video:  http://igg.me/at/WineDiamondsFilm

Thank You! ($1) – Thank you so much for supporting Wine Diamonds! You’ve made a statement to the wine world about something that is important to you and your voice will be heard.

Cheers! ($10) – As a booster at the $10 level we’ll give you an online “toast” via Facebook and Twitter, be listed on our “Wall of Fame” on Wine Diamonds website, and receive special email movie updates.

UnCorked! ($25) – At the “UnCorked” contribution level you’ll get a limited edition Wine Diamonds Cork Remover, and we’ll give you an online “toast” via Facebook and Twitter, be listed on our “Wall of Fame” on Wine Diamonds website, and receive special email movie updates.

I Drink Midwest Wine ($50) -You’re a proud advocate of locally made wines! At the “I Drink Midwest Wine” level you’ll get a custom designed Wine Diamonds T-Shirt, plus we’ll give you an online “toast” via Facebook and Twitter, be listed on our “Wall of Fame” on Wine Diamonds website, and receive special email movie updates.

Free Run ($89) – In wine making the free run is the juice that flows before pressing occurs and is thought of as the best of the juice. Free Run contributors get one free Digital Download, 1080p HD download of the feature-length documentary when it’s released! Plus, you’ll get a custom designed Wine Diamonds T-shirt, and we’ll give you an online “toast” via Facebook and Twitter, be listed on our “Wall of Fame” on Wine Diamonds website, and receive special email movie updates.

Check out the Complete List of Perks:  http://igg.me/at/WineDiamondsFilm

Thank you!

NEWS RELEASE: Wine Movie Fundraiser Begins!

April 2, 2015

Documentary Film Production Launches Crowd Funding Campaign

(Vinton, IA). Many people don’t realize the Midwest is emerging as one of the hottest new frontiers of wine. A new feature length documentary film will explore the challenges, opportunities and struggles of building a new wine region in the heartland and producers are excited to launch a major fundraising campaign today, lasting through April and May.

Watch Appeal Video: Wine Diamonds Film

They call the kinds of wine grapes that grow in this part of the American Heartland, cold-hardy grapes, grapes bred to withstand extreme temperatures that would kill traditional grapes common in California or France. These grapes, the farmers and wine makers of the Midwest are pushing the envelope of viticulture and enology, growing grape varieties that not only survive but thrive at temperatures as low as 40 below zero. This feature length documentary film is about the birth of a new wine region, the grapes, and the pioneering families dedicated to growing and making wines in America’s Heartland.

“The story of this burgeoning wine region is unfolding throughout the Midwest,” said Brad Johnson, Producer and wine industry insider. “The scope of the film quickly grew to encompass the upper Midwest region because of how interrelated the wine industry is, with grapes being developed in Minnesota and Wisconsin, knowledge of wine growing and production being openly shared, a continued trend in quality wines, and increased customer interest in the these new wines. There is an important story to share and we’re thrilled to be able to tell it,” said Johnson.

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland is a feature-length documentary film about the challenges, opportunities and struggles of developing a new wine region, showcasing the economic and agricultural diversity brought about by the wine industry, and how families are returning to and reuniting to grow wine grapes and build a new wine region in the Midwest.

“This fundraising effort is an appeal to all of us who value locally grown and made wines and recognize that something special is happening in the Midwest,” said Jeff Zahrt, Wine Diamonds Producer and award winning documentary filmmaker.

Filming began in July 2014 and will continue through the fall of 2015. Release is planned for spring 2016.

“We’re passionate about what’s happening in new frontier of wine and creating a compelling story, beautifully filmed, with interesting and informative characters allows us to make a movie that not only is appealing to a regional audience, but a national one,” said Kirk Monson, Producer and Director of Photography and award winning documentary filmmaker.

This documentary film is an opportunity for wine fans, winery and vineyard owners, industry supporters, and wine enthusiasts from around the country to demonstrate their support for this exciting time in the wine history and to be a part of this movie.

Donations to the production of Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland may be made on the crowd funding site, Indiegogo. Check out the movie trailer, view the donation perks, and make your contribution today: http://igg.me/at/WineDiamondsFilm

Corporate sponsorships are available; please contact Brad Johnson, Producer at brad.pr.johnson@gmail.com


Brad Johnson, Producer
JMZ Productions
612 E. 4th St. Vinton, IA 52349