Wine Diamonds Trailer

We are proud to release the second official movie trailer for Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland. Please watch, enjoy & Share!


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:

Corporate sponsorships are available; please contact Brad Johnson, Producer at


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

Welcome Booster: Rebekah Neuendorf!

RebekahPlease join Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland as we welcome our newest member to the Social Media Volunteer Team. Welcome Rebekah Neuendorf!

Rebekah Neuendorf is a local wine & craft beer enthusiast who is passionate about local business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Beginning in 2005, she worked different job positions including bartender, server and promotions manager, which fueled her interest in the food and beverage industry. In 2007, Rebekah moved to Chicago, where she had great exposure to a wide array of food and beverage options and eagerly sampled many different varieties of wine.

Rebekah’s taste for wine became more locally-focused after returning to her home state of Iowa in 2011. With the availability of so many awesome local and regional options, Rebekah and her husband began pursuing a new goal: to visit every winery (and brewery) in Iowa! This goal led to the launch of their touring business, iBUS Road Tours, in 2014. iBUS specializes in exclusive Winery & Brewery tours, while highlighting and emphasizing exceptional craft wine, beer, the artisans who produce it, and their partnerships right here in Iowa!

Rebekah was introduced to Brad and Kirk at the 2014 Kirkwood Community College Wine Tasting, held at the Hotel at Kirkwood. After spending the evening sampling wine and chatting with the crew, she began following the Wine Diamonds Film progress. Rebekah jumped at the opportunity to get involved and help spread the word about the wonderful wine industry that Iowa and the midwest region have to offer!

Wine Diamonds is very pleased to have Rebekah join our booster team!

Countdown Begins….

IndieGoGo copyWe’re excited, thrilled, elated and just giddy to announce we’re only 9 days away from launching our fundraising campaign!  Okay, not many people would admit to being excited to ask for donations, for your hard-earned cash, but this project means a lot to us and we’re confident if you’re a supporter of local wines (Midwestern wines) you’ll be excited enough to help us make this movie.

Our team decided to use the crowd funding website – Indiegogo, a fundraising platform commonly used for raising money for the arts.  Our launch day is April 2nd!

For the next two months we’ll be asking our friends, family, neighbors to help fund our film.  We’ll be a constant nuisance – always asking for more…and we’ll be thoroughly grateful for your contributions.  Fear not…we’ve created giving levels you all of you…no matter how deep your pockets are.  Seriously, any donation helps and you’ll have our sincere thanks.

Please make a point to join us…to be a part of our filmmaking team…to be able to say, “yeah, I helped make that.”

You’re Not in France: What this Winemaker Says will SHOCK you!

When people think of sparkling wine, bubbly wine, or champagne style wines most think of places like France or California.  For a bubbly wine to be considered “Champagne” it must be from the Champagne region of France, so bubbly wines from other parts of the world may have names like: sparkling wine, Prosecco (from Italy), Champagne-style wine and be made in several ways (including traditional method, aka: Méthode Champenoise), Charmat (bulk processing), and carbon dioxide injected (similar to how soda pop is bubbly).

The best sparklers, in some peoples opinion, tend to have low fruit intensity, possess lively tartness, and have lots and lots of tiny, tiny bubbles.  Many of the Midwest grapes are well-suited for becoming sparkling wines.  While not many winemakers in the heartland are taking up the challenge of crafting traditionally made sparkling wines, there are a few that have successfully made outstanding bubbly.

We met with John Burns, owner/winemaker, of Barrel Head Winery in Dubuque, Iowa recently to interview him for our film.  This “On the Road” segment (updated graphics and music) puts a spotlight on Johns work making exceptional sparking wines in the heartland.  Take a few minutes to watch this short segment and make an effort to visit John soon!


Welcome Film Booster: Pat Ganzer Holland

Pat ganzer HollandWine Diamonds is pleased to welcome Pat Ganzer Holland to our film’s social media booster team! I’ve (Brad) known Pat for several years and when she agreed to join our volunteer team to help promote our film, I was thrilled!

Here is Pat’s brief bio:

I was first introduced to wine/Iowa wine 8-9 years ago. I knew nothing about wine-but was willing to try it. Went to Benz in CR and tried Cedar Ridge wine when they were still located in the back of the store. Consumed some wine, but I guess I wasn’t overly impressed LOL. Move forward another year or 2 and ended up at Fireside Winery, when they very first opened with friends to check out the place. My friends were talking about how there was a new place by Williamsburg, Iowa and they had wine, music and fire pits etc. The rest is history.

I become involved in with the Iowa wine industry when I became signed up with you (Brad used to work at Fireside Winery) and the Wine Ambassador program. Happy, I enjoyed the program and learning about wine, wine making, and the winery business. I have visited many local Iowa wineries with several more on the ever growing list. I love working at Fireside!! It is a fun place with great people. It is a great local industry and have met wonderful people working there, and LOVE Iowa wine, wine in general!!! I enjoy everything from picking the grapes, to bottling to obviously consuming!!

Please join us in welcoming Pat to our team!

If you’re interested in helping promote our film, Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland, we’d love to have your help.  Contact Brad Johnson at and let us know you’d like to help. It’s a volunteer gig but we’ll acknowledge you on our website and in our film credits and have your deepest gratitude.

Welcome to the team, Pat!

Wine Diamonds Social Media Boosters Wanted

WDNewLogoBlack copyVolunteer Job: Wine Diamonds Social Media Booster

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™ is seeking several individuals to help us get the word out about our new (currently in production) feature length documentary film about the new Midwest wine industry.

Volunteer Mission Requirements: You must love locally crafted wines of the Midwest; you’re a savvy consumer of social media (and by savvy we mean you’re online often and know how to use Facebook.  If you use other social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, have a blog…well, that’s a bonus) – we just need help getting the word out; you are comfortable sharing our Wine Diamonds Film posts and encourage your friends and followers to do the same; you help us to find new friends, new followers, new supporters; and ultimately our big goal will be for us to reach to both coasts with our message.

How Often: We’d love for you to help us as often as you feel comfortable, at least a couple times per week with a post or two. During our spring fundraising campaign we can use as much help as possible to get the word out across the country.

We’re filming here: IA, IL, MO, MN, NE & WI and maybe in IN, KS, and MI.

Do I need to live in one of those states to help? If you love local wine and want to help us ferment our film, we’d love your help!

Perks: As one of our star Social Media Boosters you’ll be acknowledged on our website and appear on our film credits and, of course, have our heartfelt thank you.

Bottom line: We’d really appreciate you helping us connect with other local wine lovers, maybe even people with an interest in helping fund this movie (we’ll have special perks for those that give financially in our upcoming fundraising campaign), and film and news folks. The more the merrier!

Connect with me (Brad Johnson) if you have any questions or if you’re ready to start promoting our new film with us! Here is how you get hold of me:

Wine Conference a Blast!

The Wine Diamonds film team were out in force this past weekend during the Iowa Wine Growers Association‘s annual conference in Cedar Rapids at The Hotel at Kirkwood, on the campus of Kirkwood Community College.   The producers would like to extend gratitude to the IWGA for providing us space to showcase our promotional video and provide outreach to industry professionals.  We received a very warm reception from winery owners and vineyard operators, plus many words of encouragement from conference speakers and vendors.  We certainly felt appreciated and wish to thank the IWGA Board of Directors for making accommodations for us and giving us full access to roam and interview members, vendors and speakers.

In addition to being able to explain our project in person to industry and show our video, there were many highlights during our weekend at the wine conference.  On Friday night, we were on hand for a first – a Guinness record attempt for farthest wine cork flight.  We asked our media friends from KGAN CBS 2 and KCRG ABC 9 and the Cedar Rapids Gazette to come out and cover the event too and were happy they could make it.  The traditional method sparkling wine industry in Iowa is very young, so only three winemakers were on hand for the competition.  After the final cork landed the winner was Andrew Morris of Breezy Hills Vineyard and Winery (Minden, IA) with a new record of 45 feet 11 inches!  Congratulations!

On Saturday our film team was onsite for a day of impromptu interviews with industry leaders, winery and vineyard owners, and speakers.  We had modest expectations for the interviews, given the fact most attendees were there to network and learn and not to be bothered by a film team, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the willingness of participants to frankly discuss issues and to provide us with some amazing quality content.  We’re looking forward to processing the footage soon!

Here are a few photos from our weekend.  Enjoy!

There are perks to the job. This photo was taken after the Guinness record attempt (from left to right: Rob Bauer, Brad Johnson and Kirk Monson).
We interview Mike Vincent, IWGA Board Member and owner of Wooden Wheel Vineyard.
We interview Mike Vincent, IWGA Board Member and owner of Wooden Wheel Vineyard.
We interviewed Master of Wine, Tim Hanni. He was one of the featured speakers at the IWGA conference.
We interviewed Master of Wine, Tim Hanni. He was one of the featured speakers at the IWGA conference.
The team films Dr. Murli during a break at the IWGA conference.
The team films Dr. Murli during a break at the IWGA conference.
Wine Diamonds interviews IWGA Board Member and Train Wreck Winery winemaker and general manager, Steve Larson.
Wine Diamonds interviews IWGA Board Member and Train Wreck Winery winemaker and general manager, Steve Larson.



Flight of the Corks!

Flight of the Corks copyOur team will be attending the Iowa Wine Growers Association’s annual conference to interview industry officials and winery owners.  On Friday night we’ll shoot the “Flight of the Corks.”

A first of its kind Iowa “cork flight” record attempt is slated for Friday, February 27th (7pm) on the campus of Kirkwood Community College. Sparkling winemakers of Iowa have accepted the challenge for the first “Flight of the Corks” record attempt during the annual Iowa Wine Growers Conference in Cedar Rapids.

There is effervescence among some Iowa winemakers, a bubbly personality motivating them to craft exceptional wines, and a growing trend to create traditional method champagne style wines of incredible quality. The traditional method of creating sparkling wines (known as Champagne in the Champagne region of France) is a slow, time consuming process requiring patience and yielding some of the finest bubbly wines in the world.

“Some Iowa winemakers have recognized the grapes grown in the region are particularly well suited for sparkling wine production,” said Lucas McIntire, Kirkwood Community College enology and viticulture instructor and winemaker at the Winery at Kirkwood, “and the sparkling wines we’re making are gaining international attention.”

John Burns, owner and winemaker of Barrel Head Winery (Dubuque, IA) makes traditional method sparkling wines from grapes grown in his own estate vineyard. John’s 2012 bubbly, called Tomcat (named after his pet cat, Tom) won international recognition at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, going head-to-head with sparklers from around the world, earning top honors – a double gold medal, one of only two awarded.

“This is an occasion for Iowa sparkling winemakers to have a little competitive fun to see whose corks can fly the farthest,” said John, “and the only prize is the satisfaction of having won.”

In the two-round Cork Flight event, sparkling winemakers of Iowa will shoot their corks from a fixed table inside Washington Hall (Kirkwood Community College). Judges will measure each flight and the winner will be announced after the final cork has launched. The Friday, February 27th event will begin at 7pm and the public is invited to attend and are encouraged to arrive by 6:45pm.