National Release Planned

Hey Wine Diamonds Friends!  We are thrilled to let you know we’ll be launching our film on March 20, 2018 and are excited take this next big step.  Our goal is to have the film available to the general public through DVD purchases (and merchandise) and via Digital Downloads (sale and rent); and to our winery and retail supporters with a special purchase option for commercial businesses for both bulk wholesale purchases and screening opportunities and special purchases.

Once activated the graphics that appear below (and on the sidebar) will take you to our online stores.  Thanks for your support and we hope you shop with us soon!

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Chagrin Documentary Film Festival – Official Selection

CONGRATULATIONS to the Wine Diamonds Film team for being chosen as an OFFICIAL SELECTION to the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is “named to MovieMaker Magazine’s prestigious list of “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”, the Festival takes place at venues in and around the lovely century village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.”

We are excited and honored to be chosen as an Official Selection to this important documentary film festival and thrilled to share the story of growing Midwestern wine industry with audiences across the country.

WD Special Screenings Winter Tour

screening-tourThe Wine Diamonds team is pleased to announce a Special Screening Tour for winter 2017.

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™

Documentary

Runtime: 76 minutes

Forget everything you thought you knew about wine!  Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™ explores the difficulties and excitement of creating a new wine region in the Heartland and rewrites winemaking history in the process. The documentary begins by tracing the historical significance of one the early grape breeding pioneers of the Midwest, Elmer Swenson, and then explores the challenges of grape production, wine making and consumer acceptance in the upper Midwest. Five winemaking families share their personal stories of struggle and success as they attempt to create a new wine region. World renowned wine authorities, Doug Frost (Master Sommelier and Master of Wine) and Tim Hanni (Master of Wine) answer the big questions about cold-hardy grapes and wine. The film ends on a high note as key figures in the wine industry imagine the future of this new nontraditional wine region.

January 23 – Wisconsin Grape Grower Association, annual conference, Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.*

February 6 – Iowa Wine Growers Association annual conference, Gateway Hotel and Conference Center, Ames, IA *

February 11 – NewBo Market, Cedar Rapids, IA* (Sponsored by: Linn Area Community Credit Union).

February 16-18 – Minnesota Grape Growers Association, Cold Climate Conference at Double Tree, Bloomington, MN *

*Special Screenings

FIRST SCREENING A HIT!

We’ve had a few weeks to absorb our first public screening at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and we’re still ramped up from our experience.  Our team arrived early to help facilitate the set-up process with wineries, the band, and make sure our film was loaded. By about 12:30 we were getting an inkling that our film was going to be well received, by 1pm people were mingling outside and not long afterwards we got word that our film was “SOLD OUT!”  Excitement and nervousness were the words of the day, but when we opened the doors at 1:30 and the Dubuque Museum of Art quickly filled up.

JDIFF 57During the pre-screening wine tasting event (with 10 wineries from across the region) and live music provided by Live Broadcast (a Cedar Rapids band) our guests were treated to some amazing wine and incredible music.

In my wildest hopes we would have a sold out show and that our team would have to give our seats away to stand. My wish came true!  The theater seated 140 people and we ended up with 153!  How about that for a first public showing!

After the screening our winery friends and a few of the Wine Diamonds team held a panel discussion that lasted for nearly an hour.

Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better screening event and we want to thank John Donovan, the JDIFF team, our winery friends, Live Broadcast, and the entire Wine Diamonds team.  We’re now taking a few breaths and are making some final edits before we launch into the next phase of submitting our documentary to film festivals.  Wish us luck and follow us on Facebook!

P.S.  Here is a time lapse video of the pre-screening event:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dwdyiqpvFA

Thanks,
Brad

Official Selection to JDIFF!

JDIFF Official Selection_edited-1The Wine Diamonds team is excited and proud to announce our documentary film “Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland” has been chosen as an Official Selection at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and we’ll be showing a “special screening” on Saturday, April 23 (1:30-4pm) at the Dubuque Museum of Art (Dubuque, IA).

Wine Diamonds is a feature-length documentary film about the struggles and opportunities of building a new wine region.

The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival is one of the most important independent film festivals in the Midwest and we are thrilled to be a small part of this big event! Not only is this film festival in our home state and smack-dab right in the middle of where we filmed (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin), but this event brings in film distributors and buyers and if we can dream big – this is where it begins!

Showing Location: Dubuque Museum of Art – http://dbqart.com/
Time: Saturday, April 23 (1:30-4pm)
Activities: Pre/post wine tasting, Live Music with “Live Broadcast” and Panel Discussion
Tickets: Julien Dubuque International Film Festival – http://bit.ly/1q2wdrS

Appearing in this film:

• Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wines, Kansas City, MO
• Michael Jones, Fermentation Expert, Petaluma, CA
• Lucas McIntire, Instructor and Winemaker at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA
• Steve Larson, Winemaker, Train Wreck Winery, Algona, IA
• Tim Hanni, Master of Wine, Napa, CA
• Dr. Murli Dharmadhikari, PhD, Iowa State University, Director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute, Ames, IA
• Drew Horton, Iowa State University, Enology Field Specialist, Ames, IA
• John Marshall, Winemaker, Lake Pepin Winery, Lake City, MN
• Ray Winter, Owner, Indian Island Winery, Janesville, MN
• Robin Partch, Winemaker, Northern Vineyards Winery, Stillwater, MN
• Michael White, Iowa State University, Viticulture Field Specialist, Indianola, IA
• Bob Foster, Director, Mid-American Wine Competition, San Diego, CA
• Mike Drash, Winemaker, Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, Kasota, MN
• Kent Schwickert, Owner, Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, Kasota, MN
• William Wyant, Co-Owner, Fireside Winery, Marengo, IA
• Rona Wyant, Co-Owner, Fireside Winery, Marengo, IA
• Lynita Delaney, Partner and Winemaker, Elmaro Vineyard, Trempealeau, WI
• Mark Delaney, Partner and Viticulturalist, Elmaro Vineyard, Trempealeau, WI
• Mark Wenzel, Co-Owner and Winemaker, Illinois Sparkling Co., North Utica, IL
• Nan Bailly, Owner and Winemaker, Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Hastings, MN
• Cassie Bott, Marketing and Events Manager, Fireside Winery, Marengo, IA
• Zach Bott, Winemaker, Fireside Winery, Marengo, IA
• John Burns, Owner and Winemaker, Barrel Head Winery, Dubuque, IA
• Mike Vincent, Owner and Winemaker, Wooden Wheel Vineyards, Keota, IA
• Tracy Drash, Kasota, MN
• Anne Zwink, Winemaker, Solider Creek Winery, Fort Dodge, IA
• Bob Wersen, Owner, Tassel Ridge Winery, Leighton, IA
• Laura Delaney Roessler, Partner and Winemaker, Elmaro Vineyard, Trempealeau, WI
• Todd Roessler, Partner and Marketing Manager, Elmaro Vineyard, Trempealeau, WI
• Dr. Paul Tabor, Owner and Winemaker, Tabor Home Vineyards and Winery, Baldwin, IA
• Mary Hofmann, Co-Owner and Winemaker, White Oak Vineyards, Carlock, IL
• Bill Secor Jr., Owner, Soldier Creek Winery, Fort Dodge, IA
• Ellen Landis, Wine Director and Sommelier Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, Half Moon Bay, CA
• Lauren Chalupski-Cannon, Midwest Wine Expert, The Secret Cellar, Shueyville, IA
• Josie Boyle, Assistant Winemaker, Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, Kasota, MN
• Christine Lawlor, Winemaker, Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, Galena, WI

On behalf of the entire Wine Diamonds team we wish to thank Susan Gorrell, Executive Director of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival for her encouragement and support; John Donovan, former board member of the JDIFF whose help making the event happen is greatly appreciated.

We hope to see many Midwestern winery owners and supporters, independent film fans, and our friends and family at our first public showing on Saturday, April 23!

Cheers,
Brad Johnson

“2016 Outstanding Industry Partner Award”

 

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™ is a feature length independent documentary film about the struggles and opportunities of creating a new wine region in the upper Midwest.

This past weekend we attended the Iowa Wine Growers Association’s annual conference to talk to industry about our film, show a clip and the trailer and were surprised and honored to be recognized with the 2016 “Outstanding Industry Partner Award!”  Thank you Iowa!

Watch: Wine Diamonds Movie Trailer

UPDATE: We began filming in July 2014 and for the past 18 months we’ve driven more than 3,000 miles, filmed in four states (IA, IL, MN & WI), interviewed more than 200 wine industry people, and cataloged more than 100 hours of interview footage.

Right now we are in the final stages of editing the movie and need your help. This last phase is a time consuming and expensive stage. We need to raise several thousand dollars to help us pay for the movie soundtrack composition and production, entry into film festival competitions (to help us get picked up by a national distributor), and attendance at film festivals across the country.

We’re at a critical point right now and need your help today. Your help means so much to our successful completion and if every local wine lover (or fan of independent film) gave $10 we’d be well on our way to achieving our goal of making a beautifully filmed and compelling story.

Your donation will help us tell this important wine story. Please give now:  https://www.gofundme.com/WineDiamondsFilm

 

Award
IWGA “2016 Outstanding Industry Partner” Award
Mike White presents Wine Diamonds Producer, Brad Johnson, the 2016 “Outstanding Industry Partner” Award for the Wine Diamonds Team
Brad Johnson, film producer, talks with IWGA members about the film.
Iowa Wine Growers Association members watching Wine Diamonds clip.

 

Special Screening Helps Producers

Hi Wine Diamonds Friends!

The Wine Diamonds film team brought together a group of people last night to help us critically review our progress with the film. This audience test (or focus group) was a great way for us to get actionable audience information that we can use to make adjustments. As a result of this group we’ve got a much better understanding of how potential audiences may view our film and as a consequence we’ll be making some changes. We are so thankful to our group for helping us fine-tune our film and can’t wait to show you the next iteration.

Coming up… On February 28th we’ll be at the Iowa Wine Grower Association’s annual conference in Des Moines, IA to show our trailer and a sneak peek at one of our clips. Always great to reconnect with wine industry folks!

We’re hoping to make a quick trip to Colorado on March 16th to meet up with The Sweet Lillies at a show in Fort Collins. They created a brand new song just for this film called, “In My Blood” that really captures the way many of us feel about our ties to the land and family. More to come about this and one of their other songs.

Thanks for following our progress and for sharing our film with your wine and independent film friends.

Cheers!
Brad (and the Wine Diamonds Team)

group
Focus group (audience test) watching the first 60 minutes

 

Focus 5
Focus group participants and Wine Diamonds team

Minneapolis Welcomes Wine Diamonds

Made a quick trip to show our movie trailer and a short clip of our film to the Minnesota Grape Grower Association’s annual Cold Climate Conference in Minneapolis this past weekend.  This was our first chance to show both the trailer and a clip to an audience that is part of the industry.  Got many nice comments, a few tears (during the Elmer Swenson clip), and enjoyed the opportunity to share.

We’ll be at the Iowa Wine Grower Associations’ annual conference at the end of February to show the trailer and a clip too!  Look forward to connecting with Iowa industry.

MGGA pic of brad
Brad Johnson (Producer) describing the premise of the documentary to the Minnesota Grape Grower Association’s Cold Climate Conference attendees.

Editing Suite…Sweet!

Hello Wine Diamonds Friends!

It’s hard to believe that after 18 months of filming all across the region we are finally at Editing Suitethe point in time where we have filmed, compiled, organized, transcribed and are now editing our documentary film.  One of the challenges we’ve faced is creative a cohesive narrative from the more than 100 hours of footage we’ve collected.  Our goal was to have a broad idea of what the story line would become but ultimately we tried to let the interviews guide our story.

And now that we are in the editing suite the story is really beginning to tell itself.  Kirk and I (Brad) have spent a few weeks, working intermittently, but as of today we have 70 minutes of content on our story line and with a little extra work we’ll be tightening it up, adding b-roll (the scenes you’ll see when an interview subject is talking) and bringing the full team together to edit.  Soon we’ll have the music The Sweet Lillies have created for the film and then we’ll meet with our soundtrack composer to bring it all together.

Our tentative goal is to have a “special screening” at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival (pending final approval) on Saturday, April 23.  We’ll keep you posted.

This next weekend (Feb. 13th) Brad will at the Minnesota Grape Growers Conference (Cold Climate Conference) to show a sneak peek of the film to the wine industry.  The piece we’re going to show is all about Elmer Swenson, the grandfather of cold climate grapes.

 

 

Meet The Sweet Lillies

Sweet_LilliesWe’re neck deep in editing our documentary film right now and still have a few more interviews we want to complete and today we’re in the field filming wintertime scenes at Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard.  We’ve spent about 12 hours in the editing suite already (with many more to come) and we’re thinking about the soundtrack and songs for our documentary.

Developing the sound and feel for our film is an iterative and creative process involving many artistic people and over the coming months we’ll introduce you to them.  Today, we’d like to welcome The Sweet Lillies to our project!

My good friend, Jennifer Farnum, lives in Colorado and turned me on to a new and exciting band that’s touring and I recently reached out to the band and spoke with Julie Gussaroff (band member, upright bass player and singer/songwriter) and pitched our idea of working with The Sweet Lillies.  They were incredibly warm and receptive and within a couple weeks Julie sent me an early rendition of a song for our documentary film (see YouTube video below; Video courtesy of Che Harness).

The music and soundtrack of our Wine Diamonds movie will give soul to our film and the unfolding process of working with talented artists is inspiring and heartwarming.  We encourage you to check out The Sweet Lillies, like their Facebook page, and support local music!

 

About The Sweet Lillies:  Skyrocketing to the top of the jamgrass scene, The Sweet Lillies’ high-energy, melodic tunes have quickly captured the hearts and music souls of fans in Colorado and beyond. The band, formed a mere one year ago, credits its appeal to the original and compelling songwriting of all four of its members along with the siren-like lead vocals of Alexandra Schwan. The magnetic combination of Alexandra on the guitar, Julie Gussaroff on the upright bass, Becca Bisque on the viola, and Danjo Lynn on the banjo–together with powerful three-part female harmony–give this band a rare and alluring sound. As testament to their appeal, The Sweet Lillies have already shared the stage with the likes of Peter Rowan, Vince Herman, Kyle Hollingsworth, Andy Hall, Bill McKay, Jake Wolf, Dave Abear, Leftover Salmon, Yarn, and Drunken Hearts. Based out of Colorado’s Front Range, The Sweet Lillies are continually expanding their audience and reach, building fan and critic support through an unwavering commitment to creativity, a contagious love of music, and a get-up-and-dance attitude that spreads lots of love and smiles.