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


“On the Road” wins Motion Picture Award!

The producers of Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland is pleased to announce our “On the Road” web series has been nominated to receive an Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) Award!

UPDATE – The “On the Road” web series won an Award of Achievement from IMPA. WATCH!

IMPA-acrylic-artBeing named as an official nominee signifies that our entry was selected by a panel of IMPA judges as one of the top entries in a specific category. By being a nominee it means our web series has qualified to win either an Award of Achievement or an Award of Excellence. The highest-scoring entry in each category earns the Award of Excellence.

“On the Road” is a companion web series from the producers of the documentary film, Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland. “On the Road” offers a fresh perspective on the world of wine by exploring the new frontier of wine that’s happening in the Midwest. This new web series has multifaceted purposes: to explore the burgeoning new Midwestern wine region by introducing wine enthusiasts to some of the most exciting wines and winemakers in the region; to inform and educate wine fans about delicious wines grown and made in the heartland and discuss, in informal terms, much of the wine jargon used today; all wrapped in a package that’s fun, lighthearted and entertaining.

The Iowa Motion Picture Awards recognize outstanding creative and technical achievement in Iowa’s moving image production industry, in all its forms – including 21 program categories and 26 craft categories – directing, acting, cinematography, lighting, screenwriting, art direction, editing – and many more. There are two levels of recognition, the Award of Achievement and the highest Award of Excellence.

Kirk 2013
Kirk Monson accepts a 2014 IMPA Award of Excellence.

This is the first award recognition for the producers of Wine Diamonds; however, in past years Kirk Monson and Jeff Zahrt have both won top honors for exceptional work in documentary film production, television commercial production, and earned special recognition for writing and cinematography.

The 24th Annual Iowa Motion Picture Awards will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at the historic renovated Pella Opera House Theater Center, 611 Franklin, Pella, Iowa. The public is invited to join with Iowa filmmakers throughout the day and evening Saturday, May 2, in workshops, networking events, and the 24th Annual Gala Awards Ceremony, which is Iowa’s version of the Academy Awards.

We are humbled by the early recognition for this important project and we are grateful for the IMPA honor; and happily send our appreciation to the winery families we’ve met and interviewed, and we wish to acknowledge our full team of amazing, dedicated and creative volunteers:

Rob Bauer, Graphics and Cinematography
Jeff Fitzgerald, Aerial Cinematography
Shayna Grundey, Art/Graphics and Web Master
Pat Ganzer Holland, Social Media Booster
Rebekah Neuendorf, Social Media Booster
Carol Reed, Social Media Booster

Brad Johnson, Producer
Kirk Monson, Producer and Director of Cinematography
Jeff Zahrt, Producer

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:

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!

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.



Say When???

WineDiamonds_PourWe’re making fantastic progress on our film (Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™) and are grateful for your support and encouragement.  So far we’ve spent well over 60 hours in the field filming all kinds of winery and vineyard activities.  Our plan is to continue to film throughout the fall, winter, spring and next summer.  Each time we shoot a reel of film we review it, code the content (so we can select the best segment, but also to code the content so we can find it later), and continue to think about what we’re learning.  After all our film isn’t scripted, rather we have a basic idea of what we want to learn but are also open to the opportunities that present themselves as we film.

Our goal is to launch a fundraising campaign to help us pay for all this travel and the costs associated with a year-long filming project.  We’ll have lots of great gifts for those who give….so, please keep us in mind and share our website and Facebook page with your wine friends.


Corridor Business Journal – First to Report on Wine Diamonds!

Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ crew (Brad & Kirk) interview Fireside Winery winemaker, Zach Bott during annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.
Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ crew (Brad & Kirk) interview Fireside Winery winemaker, Zach Bott during annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.

The Corridor Business Journal, serving the business news needs of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, met with Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ in the early morning hours at Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard during their first harvest weekend.  Reporter (Angie Holmes) observed the crew filming, met with winery owners and volunteer pickers, and chatted with us.  A week later the Wine Diamonds team met again with Angie Holmes (CBJ) for an in-depth interview at the offices of Monkeytown in Vinton.

We’re grateful for being noticed so early by the Corridor Business Journal and hope you enjoy the article:  Click to Read.


Photo Album Update

Hey All,

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve finally gotten around to posting a photo album of day of filming at the Mid-American Wine Competition.  You can access the photos on our Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Thanks for supporting our movie…and tonight we’re flying a drone over a nearby vineyard at sunset.  Can’t wait!!

Anonymous wines are partitioned behind a screen during judging.
Anonymous wines are partitioned behind a screen during judging.

Tassel Ridge Winery – Next Stop!

We’re excited and pleased to announce we’ll be visiting Tassel Ridge Winery this coming Monday to film the harvest of their Marquette grapes (red wine grapes).  We’ll be joining Adam, their vineyard manager, as he and his crew mechanically harvest their 9 acre Marquette block.  Our plan is for us (Brad & Kirk) to leave our base around 3am and arrive in time to film the harvest in the dark (they begin harvesting at 3am and will go for about 12 hours) and for a few hours into the morning until they load up their grapes and get them back to the T.R. crush pad.  We’re planning to follow them back to the winery, shoot some footage in the cellar, on the crush pad, and hopefully get a chance to interview the winery owner and his winemaker.  All-in-all we’re thrilled to be filming their harvest!  Okay, not so thrilled with a 2am wake-up call…but that’s documentary film making! 🙂

Tassel Ridge Winery cellar photo.
Tassel Ridge Winery cellar photo.