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.


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!


Making the Pitch Piece

It’s been a long time in the making but our team was able to finally get together and put the finishing touches on our pitch piece, our fundraising appeal video.  The three producers of Wine Diamonds met at Kirkwood Community College last night in the wine cellar of the KCC enology and viticulture program.  While there we quickly filmed a couple of segments and then headed off to the Hotel at Kirkwood where Lucas McIntire (Kirkwood’s program lead and winemaker) was sampling his wines and his brand new sparkling wine.

We filmed until 8:30 and then followed Lucas and some new friends back to the winery for a sample of the Frontenac Gris – absolutely delicious and probably the best white wine I’ve had in the Midwest!

Here are some photos from last night. Visit our Facebook page to view the entire album.

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Having a laugh at the Hotel at Kirkwood between takes!
Shooting an intro to one of our "on-the-road" segments.
Shooting an intro to one of our “on-the-road” segments.
An impromptu wine appreciation class in the lab at Kirkwood.
An impromptu wine appreciation class in the lab at Kirkwood.
Lucas McIntire, Program Lead and Winemaker at Kirkwood Community College.
Lucas McIntire, Program Lead and Winemaker at Kirkwood Community College.

Wine Judge Daryl Groom on Wine Evaluation

This past July we were fortunate enough to be welcomed at the Mid-American Wine Competition (on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College) to film and interview the competition organizers, judges and volunteers. Throughout the day we were given full access to film the judges in action and at one point we asked wine judge Daryl Groom, owner/winemaker of Groom Wines) to describe how he typically judges a flight of wines in competition. His comments are interesting, informative and it is clear he is passionate about the wines of the Midwest. Please take the 7 minutes to watch this short film and share it with your friends.

The Wine Diamonds Team

Baby it’s cold!!

One day it was 60 degrees and I was outside scrapping and painting the west side of my house and the next day it was 20 and, now after nearly two weeks, the ground is covered with snow and the temperature struggles to reach a balmy 15 degrees.  That’s life in the heartland.

Amy Promise LandWhile our vineyards rest we work.  Our winery friends are busy with holiday events and sales and managing the quiet cellar.  The Wine Diamonds team is busy processing footage we’ve shot since summer.  In fact, Kirk sent me (Brad) several new files, each one about an hour long, to view and notate.  My job is to review the footage, identify and code pertinent information throughout the roll I’m viewing, and then identify and transcribe the best of the best quotes (or images) we might want to use later.  It’s a slow process.  For about each hour of film it takes somewhere between 3-4 hours to “scrub” the footage.

One another note, our friends at Midwest Wine Press, an online wine industry news site, recently posted a story about our film and as a result we’ve received several notes of interest from wineries across the region.  Also, our good friend Mike White (Iowa State University Extension) gave us a mention in his weekly newsletter providing us additional exposure.  Thanks to Mark (MWP) and Mike White!

A couple weeks ago my good friend and wine expert, Penny Fitzgerald, connected us with Rob Barnett, owner of VinVillage and Vin Village Radio.  I snagged the following from their website: “VinVillage 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. And best yet, membership is free!”

Rob and I chatted recently about having us on his national radio program.  We discussed our film and I learned about his operation and his involvement with the wine-related film industry.  We’re excited to get on his program but we’ve decided to wait until we’re ready to launch our fundraising program so our national audience can help us! 🙂  Sounds great!

Thanks for following our progress and please remember to share us with your wine friends!


Iowa Wine Trail

We visited three Iowa Wine Trail wineries during the day yesterday (November 1st) for their 10th annual Fall event.  Our day began early (and cool, about 20 degrees) and we visited Park Farm Winery, PromiseLand Winery, and Eagles Landing Winery.

Our goal was to meet with the families, get interview footage if possible, shoot some b-roll, and work on our “Pitch” piece.  We had a very good day!  After spending 12 hours away from home we were able to get some amazing interview footage, taste some exceptional wines and food (bonus!), get some beautiful b-roll images and we even made progress on our pitch.

Here are a few photos from yesterday:

Park Farm Winery
Dave Cushman, winemaker, takes the little ones to his nearby home.
Everybody pitching in!
Kirk shooting the exterior
PromiseLand Winery (near Guttenberg, IA)
Busy tasting room.
Pouring a sample.
Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!
The delicious Oktoberfest at Eagles Landing Winery (Marquette, IA)

Film Grows in Scope

Hello Wine Friends!

Our team has been discussing the notion of expanding the scope of the film since we first started talking about Wine Diamonds.  From the outset we understood the story of the Iowa wine industry would be limited by the fact that so much of what’s happening in the Midwest was spread across the region and not only in Iowa.

For example, early pioneers in wine grape development (e.g., Elmer Swenson) and programs (e.g, University of Minnesota – grape breeding program) and other people and institutions across the region have all been instrumental in this phenomenal growth of new varietals and exceptional wines.

So, even as we were filming we were questioning if limiting our story to Iowa would do a disservice to this new wine region.  And while the Iowa wine industry is near and dear to my heart, telling this story without including the other wine pioneers, grape breeders and institutional researchers would only be a “part” of the story.

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™

What does this mean for our film?  Our goal remains the same, to place a spotlight on winery families that have returned to the Midwest to grow a new wine industry and to tell a compelling story.  We’re very excited to continue to work with our Iowa winery families and are also excited to expand the conversation to other neighboring states.

With your help we’ll identify winery families in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois.  This list may expand (Michigan?) or contract depending on our filming schedule and interest expressed by nearby states.  We’d love to talk with the winegrower associations in each state, meet with industry officials, academics from institutions of higher learning and complete this film with a comprehensive understanding of this new and exciting wine region.  Send your nominations or suggestions to Brad Johnson –

Thanks for your interest and support!