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

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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

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.

 

 

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

Holiday is Over!

Hello Wine Friends!

Feels good to be back at it again after a long break during the holidays and a prolonged illness (Brad) we’ve returned to the editing suite to work on the “pitch piece.”  Today we spent about 3 hours editing a six minute video…adding segments, removing segments, tweaking and adjusting, and being super critical of our project.  We’re still finalizing our business organization and if all goes accordingly we’ll be launching sometime in February.

Kirk editing our pitch video.
Kirk editing our pitch video.

We also spent another hour tonight creating a new “On-The-Road” segment from our visit to Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette.  We’ll release a short video soon that reviews their port-style wine.  Stay tuned for that.

If you’re a fan of what we’re working on we’d be grateful if you shared our story with your wine friends.  We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and of course right here.

Thanks,
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!

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:

ParkFarm4
Park Farm Winery
ParkFarm3
Dave Cushman, winemaker, takes the little ones to his nearby home.
ParkFarm9
Everybody pitching in!
ParkFarm6
Kirk shooting the exterior
PromiseLand13
PromiseLand Winery (near Guttenberg, IA)
PromiseLand4
Busy tasting room.
PromiseLand8
Pouring a sample.
Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!
The delicious Oktoberfest at Eagles Landing Winery (Marquette, IA)