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.

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Phase 1 of Fundraising Complete

LaurenWineDiamonds copyHey Wine Diamonds Friends!

We’ve successfully completed phase 1 of our fundraising campaign and successfully raised nearly $4,000.  We want to express our sincere gratitude to those who have given to our project — thank you so much!   As you know making a feature length film is very expensive and our fundraising efforts aren’t over yet.  We’re launching phase 2 of our fundraiser to help us finish our summer filming schedule; phase 3 will complete the process with a post-production push and hopefully we’ll have enough funds left to travel our film around the country to various film festivals.

While our Indiegogo campaign is over you can send donations to us at:

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

Corporate sponsorships are available. Contact Brad Johnson for more information: 319.329.1509.

Thank you!
The Wine Diamonds Team

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: brad.pr.johnson@gmail.com.

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!

CorkFlight
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.

 

 

Wine Diamonds Documentary Update: Feb. 17, 2015

Pitch_piece
Shooting a final segment for our pitch.

Another cold-snap is upon us in the upper Midwest and with temperatures below zero tonight and wind chills between -20 to -35 we’re thankful for cold-hardy grapes.  During the past couple of months we’ve been juggling our filming for our pitch piece (our fundraising video), organizing and applying for our LLC, and setting up “Perks” (and asking some of our winery friends to donate) and in less than 2 weeks we’ll be at the Iowa Wine Grower Association‘s annual conference in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Our team will film an Iowa record attempt for the “Flight ofFlight of the Corks copy the Corks” to see which of Iowa’s sparkling wine makers can shoot their cork the farthest.  Prize?  Braggin’ rights!  That’ll be fun.  On Saturday, February 28th our entire team will be at the Hotel at Kirkwood to meet and interview conference attendees (winery and vineyard owners, presenters, and vendors) all day.  Make sure to stop by to say hi (or if we haven’t met, introduce yourself).

Thanks to the IWGA leadership Wine Diamonds will also have a vendor table and we’ll be there to run our 6 minute promotional video – so you can see, first hand, how awesome it’s going to be and even help out by making a donation.   This is the perfect time to ask us any question you may have.

We’re putting a lot of time, energy and resources into this film and our goal is to enter this film into film festivals, seek out a distribution deal, and be able to sell this feature length film to lovers of locally crafted Midwest wines.  Like the wine makers of the Midwest we’ve set ourselves major goals and look forward to showcasing our industry around the country!

Cheers!

Cold Hardy Grape Vines

Yesterday, by Midwestern standards, was an absolutely lovely day: temperatures near 30 degrees, partly sunny, and a light northerly breeze.  These past few weeks have been brutally cold in the upper Midwest with temperatures plunging to nearly -20f and wind chills cold enough to take your breath away.

Marquette Vines
Marquette Vines in Slumber (red wine grape vine)

Wintertime in the heartland can challenge ones resolve, burst waterlines in your house (as it did at my home a couple weeks ago), and test a grapevines ability to survive.  But, that’s what these new cold hardy grape vines do!  In fact, some of these grape vines can survive cold spells that’d certainly kill off a Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon plant.  These northern vineyards can tolerate some of the coldest temperatures around and still produce a good crop and yield exceptional wines.

Tough plants, resolute growers and creative winemakers converge in the heartland and are building a new bustling wine region.  On this cool January afternoon Kirk (Producer and Director of Photography) and I (Brad) visited a local vineyard to re-shoot a few segments to include in our upcoming fundraising piece (to be hosted on the crowd funding site called, Indiegogo).  Despite snowy wet feet and being chilled to the bone we finished shooting by the late afternoon, then headed back to Kirk’s studio to work on editing.  It’s really coming together and can’t wait to share it with you!!

In the coming week we’ll be visiting one of the up-and-coming traditionally made sparkling wine producers near Decorah.  You’re really going to like meeting this character and trying his new sparklers!  Thanks for following our progress and sharing us with your wine friends.

Thanks to our friend Lucas McIntire and Kirkwood Community College (the Winery at Kirkwood) for allowing us to film at their vineyard.

Cheers,
Brad

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.

TaborVineyard1
Tabor Home Vineyard (Baldwin, IA). Iowa’s first estate winery.
WideRiverMedals
Wide River Winery (Clinton, IA) medal display.

Remember to tell your friends about our wine movie.

Thank you – the Wine Diamonds Team!

Pause in Filming and Expansion?

After a very busy start to our filming calendar we’re in a bit of a lull right now.  We’re busy doing many behind-the-scenes activities that don’t translate well into pretty photographs or necessarily interesting stories.  For example, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing the footage we’ve already shot (e.g., review, coding – trying to make sense and catalog everything that’s been recorded), preparing a fundraising campaign that includes gifts to those who donate, and preparing to shoot the “pitch-piece” – the video we’ll place on our crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, in the coming weeks.

After meeting with David O’Shields we’ve been thinking seriously about expanding the scope of our film to include neighboring states as well.  One of the reasons is the Iowa wine industry has benefited significantly by the work done by individuals and academic institutions (located in adjacent states) in the development of the many of the grapes we grow and enjoy in Iowa.

Our main focus (families coming together to build a wine industry) would remain the same we’d just increase the breadth of the film.  Here are a couple of the stories that we feel are important to the overall story: 1) Elmer Swenson , pioneering grape breeder from Wisconsin and 2) University of Minnesota grape breeding program.

What are your thoughts and who else should we consider?  Thanks!