Fireside Winery Interviews

We walked into a bustling tasting room around 2pm this past Saturday and were greeted with a smile from owner, Rona Wyant. This wasn’t our first time at Fireside Winery to film. We’d had the pleasure to film here on several occasions, including early morning sunrise filming (time lapse), later during their annual harvest event where hundreds of volunteers comb through the vineyard picking it clean, and now for this visit to finally interview the family.

The family homestead is located about 5 miles from the winery and that’s where we met up with winery owner, William Wyant. His family has been farming this land for the past 5 generations and we asked Bill to talk about his family’s connection to the land, the challenges they’ve experienced and how he and Rona got into the winery business.

Later we returned to the winery where we’d sit outside under a new pergola, first with Rona, and later with Cassie and Zach for one-on-one interviews. Each interview yielded interesting perspectives of a rich family heritage, growing a business, and lessons learned and opportunities explored.

This coming Friday we’re off to film at the Illinois Sparkling Company!

Interviewing Rona Wyant
Rona Wyant
Cassie Bott
Interviewing Zach Bott
Bill Wyant pauses for a photo.

Fundraiser Begins in 2 Days!

Fundraiser2days copyThe Wine Diamonds film team is excited to launch our major fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo (a crowd funding website) on Thursday, April 2nd. We hope you will join us by making a contribution to our independent feature length documentary film about the new frontier of wine, the Midwest!

We’ll be filming in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. If funding goes very well (and there is enough interest) we may add to the number of Midwestern states and include Michigan or Indiana or Kansas. If you’re from one of these states and feel strongly that Wine Diamonds should film there we’d love to hear from you. It costs about $10,000 to take the team on a major filming road trip..but we’d love to be able to film all over the heartland.

“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.

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!


Barrel Head Winery

Every winery I visit and each wine I taste I’m transported back to wine school and the time in my sensory analysis class when my instructor Paul Gospodarczyk (formerly of Des Moines Community College’s Enology program, now executive director of Today’s Wine Professional) quietly, and individually, whisked away students.  Thinking it odd at the time but not giving too much thought to it until Paul tapped my shoulder and led me away to a separate classroom where I was seated in front of three wine industry professionals (sommeliers and other similarly knowledgeable folks).  Seated facing my judges and placed in front of me were two glasses of wine.  My task: identify the wine varietal, geographic region where it was grown, year, and winery.

Frequently when visiting wineries I’m asked to play the game of “guess what’s in the glass?”  Maybe a little stressful, but always fun to taste great wines and talk winemaking.

On this past Friday, both Kirk (producer and director of photography) and I drove to the outskirts of Dubuque, IA to the winery of John Burns (Barrel Head Winery – Facebook Page).  This winery has been on my radar for several years.  Some of the grapes, particularly the red wine grapes of the previous generation, have the tendency for vegetal (or green or earthy) characteristics.  In fact, our winemaking friends even came up with a term to describe the special characteristic of Marechal Foch (cold hardy red wine grape) as the “Foch Funk.”  Very few winemakers have the skill necessary to tame the “Funk,” however, John Burns has unlocked the secret code to Foch.

Barrel Head Winery is always a treat to visit.  John is an fascinating character, passionate winemaker, and one of the most generous people in the business.  Kirk and I planned our stop to coincide with the disgorging of John’s newest sparkling wine: Tomcat (2014).  We followed along (and actually got to disgorge a bottle for ourselves) talking wine and eventually sat down for a more formal interview after a few hours of filming.

We filmed, enjoyed some brats, and sampled some very exceptional wines and before leaving John poured a sample of one of his latest creations.  Of course, “guess what’s in the glass?” asked John.  My answer: St. Croix, Marechal Foch..(dramatic pause)…and Frontenac.  I should have just answered: Awesomeness!

Frankly, I’m a fan of all his wines but if I had to pick one that really makes my heart leap: Tomcat, the sparkling wine (made via the traditional method).  Highly Recommended.

Here are some photos from our trip:

Barrel Head Winery
Don’t let the modest exterior fool ya. There is some fantastic wines inside!
Kirk disgorging the new sparkling Tomcat as John looks on.
Brad takes time to mug the camera..showing off a bottle of Tomcat
At the end of the day we sit down with owner/winemaker John Burns for a wonderful interview.

Indiegogo Prep Work

KCC15Our team met late last week to discuss filming updates and have a business strategy meeting prior to launching our Indiegogo (crowd funding campaign).  We talked about the places where we’ve shot, locations where we are planning to go, and the nuts and bolts of creating an interesting and captivating documentary film about what’s happening in the Midwest wine industry.

We’re pleased with the process we’ve achieved so far and our “pitch piece” (the fundraising appeal video we’ll launch soon) is making good progress — thanks to Kirk for his editing finesse.  Our team is developing several “perks” for those that invest in our film and we’re looking forward to sharing that with you in February.  We’ll have ways for you to donate both financially and through in-kind donations (of stuff or services or time).  Wouldn’t it be cool to know you were instrumental in making the first feature length motion picture about the exciting Midwest wine world!?!?

You can help right now by signing up for our email list (don’t worry we won’t inundate you with tons of emails and we would never sell or give your email address away) – Sign up for our Mail Chimp Now!

Over this past weekend we scouted a few eastern Iowa wineries: Tabor Home Vineyard and Winery (Baldwin), Iowa Grape Vines (Maquoketa), and Wide River Winery (Clinton).  We tasted some really nice wines, met some great folks and got a deeper understanding of what’s happening across the region.  Here are a few pictures we snapped.

Tabor Home Vineyard (Baldwin, IA). Iowa’s first estate winery.
Wide River Winery (Clinton, IA) medal display.

Remember to tell your friends about our wine movie.

Thank you – the Wine Diamonds Team!

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)