“On-the-Road” at Tassel Ridge Winery (VIDEO)

Here is my disclaimer for this segment: Okay…this isn’t my (Brad’s) best work so a little background about our shoot at Tassel Ridge Winery. For this day of filming we’d woke up at 2am, drove about 2 hours, shot footage for 8 hours and decided to try this (our first “on the road” shoot). So please try to overlook my bad take.

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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
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Crystal blue October skies at harvest in Iowa
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Dusty and cool as the setting sun inches toward the horizon.
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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?
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Last photo of the day as the farmers finish the last pass.  Do you see the drone?

Come Fly with Me!

Being avid winery/vineyard fans and movie-makers one of the things we quickly decided we wanted for this film was to fly a drone over some vineyards.  There is a magical sensation you get from watching footage taken from a drone (or helicopter) as it buzzes over a vineyard and last night our hopes came to fruition.  We arrived at the vineyard around 5:30pm, took a walk around the Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard to familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land, set up the monitor and transceiver, and fired up the four-propeller drone.   A nice, new Go-Pro camera was mounted on the gimbals connected to the drone which allowed us to move the camera, in flight, and to give us a very crisp and smooth filming experience — no vibration at all!

Our skilled drone pilot (Jeff) accommodated our long list of must-have shots and was incredibly adept at capturing each of them.  From slowly walking behind the drone as it flew 5 feet above the ground between rows (not an easy task for a pilot) to flying it on 1/4 mile trips that took the drone over trees and over farm fields and out of sight.   We periodically reviewed the awe-inspiring footage back at the car.  Incredible!   Can’t wait to share it.  In the mean time here are a few behind-the-scenes photos I took last night.  You can visit our Wine Diamonds Facebook album to see more.

Please share us with your friends and follow us on Facebook.  Thank you!

~Brad

Drone pre-flight checks
Drone pre-flight checks
Slowly walking behind the drone down a vineyard row
Slowly walking behind the drone down a vineyard row
Flying low and slow over the vineyard.
Flying low and slow over the vineyard.

Wine Diamonds: Photos

Update:  The next filming opportunity may be this coming Monday at Tassel Ridge Winery.  If their harvest and our availability coincide then we’ll be filming there next Monday.  Until then, here are some photos from our last day of filming.

This photo tells it all!   You can tell we're in Iowa with the John Deere farm implements behind the grapes.
This photo tells it all! You can tell we’re in Iowa with the John Deere farm implements behind the grapes.
Vineyard manager (Ryan) and Winemaker (Zach) being interviewed.
Vineyard manager (Ryan) and Winemaker (Zach) being interviewed.
Picking wine grapes Iowa-style!
Picking wine grapes Iowa-style!
More picking
More picking

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iPick iStomp iDrink – Harvest Day!

Harvesting wine grapes in Iowa can be a challenge: electrical storms, high temperatures, sticky humidity and competing for attention from potential grape pickers — and for many people who are fans of Iowa Hawkeye or Cyclone football, football tends to win out.  The good news is the grapes somehow get picked (i.e., wine vs. football — wine wins!) and the juice becomes wine.

Picking2This past Saturday we joined almost 100 volunteer grape pickers at Fireside Winery‘s annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.  Volunteers meet at the vineyard at 7am, receive a briefing and tools, and are directed into the vineyard where a orchestrated event unfolds.  Five gallon buckets are filled with grapes, staff collects full buckets and leaves fresh buckets behind, several buckets filled to the brim are hauled via Gators back to a large macro bin, and later a tractor retrieves about a ton of berries in the bin and takes them to an awaiting trailer.  The trailer, when filled with the morning harvest heads back to the winery and those bins are placed in chilled refrigerator semi trailer to stay cool.  When needed the cool bins are removed and delivered next door to the crush-pad where the winemaker crushes, destems and presses the juice.

Around noon the volunteer pickers are back to the winery (about 6 miles from the main vineyard) and relax, have lunch and then enjoy a grape stomp.

Throughout the day we filmed the process, met and talked with volunteers, chatted and interviewed both staff and volunteers, captured the crush (even a brief breakdown of equipment), and the grape stomp.

Here are a few of the photos (below).  Click to see the entire album visit our Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked Facebook page (and remember to “like” us).  Thanks!

Kirk films a volunteer
Kirk films a volunteer
Grape Stompers!
Grape Stompers!
Zach moving macro bins of wine grapes
Zach moving macro bins of wine grapes
Kirk filming the unloading of LaCrosse into Crusher-Destemmer machine.
Kirk filming the unloading of LaCrosse into Crusher-Destemmer machine.

Harvest Day – Re-do!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ll be back filming again (weather permitting, of course) this Saturday at Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard.  Last Saturday’s harvest day had to be cancelled due to storms.  You really don’t want to be in a vineyard filled with metal wires in an electrical storm!

Our goal is the same as last weekend: to shoot the harvest, interview volunteers and staff, film the processing of wine grapes back at the winery, and capture the fun of the grape stomp.

Can’t wait!

Bad Day for Filming…

StormsWoke up this morning at 4:30am and peeked through my curtains and my windows were foggy due to the thick summer humidity of Iowa, the ground outside was wet from an overnight storm, and I soon found myself checking the weather radar.  An early morning line of thunderstorms were near Des Moines and looping the images it seemed somewhat possible that they storms would hold off until late morning.  I was hopeful.

Kirk picked me up at 5:20am and we were off.  Just out of town the air, thick as water, velveted the road in an increasing dense grey-white cloud slowing our progress.  We chatted, discussed the filming day ahead, and caught up on filming business and drove the final twisting roads that approach Marengo, our destination.  In the rich, warm humid air thick with low clinging fog flashes of lightening, illuminating the cloud-filled atmosphere, off in the western distance were a portent of the near future.

Only moments before we were joking about having the day canceled because of thunderstorms — you really don’t want to be in a vineyard (full of metal wires) in an electrical storm — and turning onto the road (within 1/4 mile of our destination) we were called by Cassie (Fireside Winery) to let us know the harvest was being cancelled because of the approaching storm.  Smart move, for sure.

The grapes will have to wait.  We did an about-face, turned the vehicle around and decided to call it a day.  Instead, we’ll be spending time inside reviewing the footage we’ve already shot, preparing to get our “pitch-piece” (a fundraising appeal video) ready.  We’re hoping to return to the Brickyard Hill Vineyard next weekend for the harvest.

Cheers!

It’s Harvest Time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the coming weeks vineyards all over Iowa will be filled with people, a lot of times volunteers, helping to harvest the 2014 wine grape crop.  After such a brutally cold winter there was a lot of concern this years harvest wouldn’t be so good, but early reports are showing a good crop, thanks to a pleasant summer.

The Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ production team will be heading out to the vineyards this weekend to film the harvest, the fun, and the processing of grapes at Fireside Winery (Marengo, IA).  Fireside Winery is still seeking volunteers for this weekend and for 3 other weekends.  Click here to connect with them.

Our team will be filming grape pickers, the work going on in the vineyard, interviewing some of the volunteer harvesters and Fireside crew, and heading back to the winery for the Stomp portion of the day.  We’re also planning to film Zach, the wine maker, and his team as they process the grapes that were picked in the morning.

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Fireside Winery owner, Bill Wyant.
Fireside Winery owner, Bill Wyant.

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