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.



“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.

Eagles Landing Winery

My wife, Jill, and I made an impromptu visit to Eagle’s Landing Winery (Marquette, IA) last weekend on our way for a quick camping get-away.  As one of the six wineries we’ll be following over the year it was a pleasure to reconnect with the winery owners, Jay & Cindy.  Eagles Landing Winery’s winemaker Jay Halvorson was selected as the 2013 Iowa Winemaker of the Year after re-sampling their wines it is clear why he earned this important distinction — consistent delicious wines!

Though we were unannounced and Jay was in the middle of bottling some of his famed “Campfire Hootch,” a blend of several types of fruit wine, he paused and gave us a tasting from one of his new wines, direct from the tank.  It’s a red wine made from Iowa Marechal Foch, Frontenac and to round out the flavor profile a little Syrah.  Probably one of the very best dry red wines I’ve ever tasted in Iowa…hell, just a great red wine no matter where you are!

After a tour and taste in the cellar he took us out front to the tasting room where he proceeded to give us several delicious samples of wine.  Both Jay and Cindy are such incredible hosts and are the kind of people who really take care of their customers.  Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette, IA (only blocks from the Mississippi River) — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!
Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!

Tassel Ridge Winery – Marquette Harvest

I’ve never been called a morning person before but more and more often I’m waking up for early morning shoots.  Actually, there is something special about these early morning filming opportunities and yesterday our alarm clocks woke us up before 2am for a trip to Tassel Ridge Winery.

The owner, Bob Wersen, and his staff have been incredibly patient and helpful as we’ve tried to coordinate our two schedules.  Grapes are ready to harvest when they are ripe and have no consideration for our busy schedules, but fortunately, yesterday, the grapes were perfectly ripe and schedules were open.  So, it was with a bowl of cereal in our bellies that we left Benton County and drove for nearly two hours to reach the Meadowcreek Vineyard of Tassel Ridge Winery.  Located just north of Oskaloosa, Iowa (south east of Des Moines) the vineyard takes up more than 9 acres of land surrounding Mr. Wersen’s Interpower business.

A bright moonlit night sky welcomed us to the vineyard and the crew was already busy harvesting.  Tassel Ridge Winery has one of only a few mechanical harvesters in the region and we had amazing access to their operation.  We set up our cameras and began shooting night time footage of the harvest, bright lights of the harvester and the following tractor with trailer containing three macro bins and two sorters.  These two hardy souls, bent over sorting out leaves and stems and other detritus from the delicious grapes, were giving their detailed attention to this pre-wine.

Warm, friendly and accommodating staff provided us with unparalleled access and, as a result, we obtained some amazing footage.  We left the vineyard for the winery (located 15 minutes away) by 7:30 and interviewed Bob and some of his team.  Great interviews!   Later in the morning we shot some additional, crazy-awesome, footage in the vineyard.

Here are a few of behind-the-scenes photos.  If you support our film, please follow us here, like us on Facebook (you can see our full Tassel Ridge photo album), and tell your friends about Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked.