NEWS RELEASE: Wine Movie Fundraiser Begins!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2015

NEW FRONTIER OF WINE
Documentary Film Production Launches Crowd Funding Campaign

(Vinton, IA). Many people don’t realize the Midwest is emerging as one of the hottest new frontiers of wine. A new feature length documentary film will explore the challenges, opportunities and struggles of building a new wine region in the heartland and producers are excited to launch a major fundraising campaign today, lasting through April and May.

Watch Appeal Video: Wine Diamonds Film

They call the kinds of wine grapes that grow in this part of the American Heartland, cold-hardy grapes, grapes bred to withstand extreme temperatures that would kill traditional grapes common in California or France. These grapes, the farmers and wine makers of the Midwest are pushing the envelope of viticulture and enology, growing grape varieties that not only survive but thrive at temperatures as low as 40 below zero. This feature length documentary film is about the birth of a new wine region, the grapes, and the pioneering families dedicated to growing and making wines in America’s Heartland.

“The story of this burgeoning wine region is unfolding throughout the Midwest,” said Brad Johnson, Producer and wine industry insider. “The scope of the film quickly grew to encompass the upper Midwest region because of how interrelated the wine industry is, with grapes being developed in Minnesota and Wisconsin, knowledge of wine growing and production being openly shared, a continued trend in quality wines, and increased customer interest in the these new wines. There is an important story to share and we’re thrilled to be able to tell it,” said Johnson.

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland is a feature-length documentary film about the challenges, opportunities and struggles of developing a new wine region, showcasing the economic and agricultural diversity brought about by the wine industry, and how families are returning to and reuniting to grow wine grapes and build a new wine region in the Midwest.

“This fundraising effort is an appeal to all of us who value locally grown and made wines and recognize that something special is happening in the Midwest,” said Jeff Zahrt, Wine Diamonds Producer and award winning documentary filmmaker.

Filming began in July 2014 and will continue through the fall of 2015. Release is planned for spring 2016.

“We’re passionate about what’s happening in new frontier of wine and creating a compelling story, beautifully filmed, with interesting and informative characters allows us to make a movie that not only is appealing to a regional audience, but a national one,” said Kirk Monson, Producer and Director of Photography and award winning documentary filmmaker.

This documentary film is an opportunity for wine fans, winery and vineyard owners, industry supporters, and wine enthusiasts from around the country to demonstrate their support for this exciting time in the wine history and to be a part of this movie.

Donations to the production of Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland may be made on the crowd funding site, Indiegogo. Check out the movie trailer, view the donation perks, and make your contribution today: http://igg.me/at/WineDiamondsFilm

Corporate sponsorships are available; please contact Brad Johnson, Producer at brad.pr.johnson@gmail.com

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Contact:
Brad Johnson, Producer
JMZ Productions
612 E. 4th St. Vinton, IA 52349
319-329-1509
Brad.pr.johnson@gmail.com
http://www.winediamondsfilm.com

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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!

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 – brad.pr.johnson@gmail.com

Thanks for your interest and support!

Cheers,
Brad

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!