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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“2016 Outstanding Industry Partner Award”

 

Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland™ is a feature length independent documentary film about the struggles and opportunities of creating a new wine region in the upper Midwest.

This past weekend we attended the Iowa Wine Growers Association’s annual conference to talk to industry about our film, show a clip and the trailer and were surprised and honored to be recognized with the 2016 “Outstanding Industry Partner Award!”  Thank you Iowa!

Watch: Wine Diamonds Movie Trailer

UPDATE: We began filming in July 2014 and for the past 18 months we’ve driven more than 3,000 miles, filmed in four states (IA, IL, MN & WI), interviewed more than 200 wine industry people, and cataloged more than 100 hours of interview footage.

Right now we are in the final stages of editing the movie and need your help. This last phase is a time consuming and expensive stage. We need to raise several thousand dollars to help us pay for the movie soundtrack composition and production, entry into film festival competitions (to help us get picked up by a national distributor), and attendance at film festivals across the country.

We’re at a critical point right now and need your help today. Your help means so much to our successful completion and if every local wine lover (or fan of independent film) gave $10 we’d be well on our way to achieving our goal of making a beautifully filmed and compelling story.

Your donation will help us tell this important wine story. Please give now:  https://www.gofundme.com/WineDiamondsFilm

 

Award
IWGA “2016 Outstanding Industry Partner” Award
Mike White presents Wine Diamonds Producer, Brad Johnson, the 2016 “Outstanding Industry Partner” Award for the Wine Diamonds Team
Brad Johnson, film producer, talks with IWGA members about the film.
Iowa Wine Growers Association members watching Wine Diamonds clip.

 

Countdown Begins….

IndieGoGo copyWe’re excited, thrilled, elated and just giddy to announce we’re only 9 days away from launching our fundraising campaign!  Okay, not many people would admit to being excited to ask for donations, for your hard-earned cash, but this project means a lot to us and we’re confident if you’re a supporter of local wines (Midwestern wines) you’ll be excited enough to help us make this movie.

Our team decided to use the crowd funding website – Indiegogo, a fundraising platform commonly used for raising money for the arts.  Our launch day is April 2nd!

For the next two months we’ll be asking our friends, family, neighbors to help fund our film.  We’ll be a constant nuisance – always asking for more…and we’ll be thoroughly grateful for your contributions.  Fear not…we’ve created giving levels you all of you…no matter how deep your pockets are.  Seriously, any donation helps and you’ll have our sincere thanks.

Please make a point to join us…to be a part of our filmmaking team…to be able to say, “yeah, I helped make that.”

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!

 

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.

 

 

Flight of the Corks!

Flight of the Corks copyOur team will be attending the Iowa Wine Growers Association’s annual conference to interview industry officials and winery owners.  On Friday night we’ll shoot the “Flight of the Corks.”

A first of its kind Iowa “cork flight” record attempt is slated for Friday, February 27th (7pm) on the campus of Kirkwood Community College. Sparkling winemakers of Iowa have accepted the challenge for the first “Flight of the Corks” record attempt during the annual Iowa Wine Growers Conference in Cedar Rapids.

There is effervescence among some Iowa winemakers, a bubbly personality motivating them to craft exceptional wines, and a growing trend to create traditional method champagne style wines of incredible quality. The traditional method of creating sparkling wines (known as Champagne in the Champagne region of France) is a slow, time consuming process requiring patience and yielding some of the finest bubbly wines in the world.

“Some Iowa winemakers have recognized the grapes grown in the region are particularly well suited for sparkling wine production,” said Lucas McIntire, Kirkwood Community College enology and viticulture instructor and winemaker at the Winery at Kirkwood, “and the sparkling wines we’re making are gaining international attention.”

John Burns, owner and winemaker of Barrel Head Winery (Dubuque, IA) makes traditional method sparkling wines from grapes grown in his own estate vineyard. John’s 2012 bubbly, called Tomcat (named after his pet cat, Tom) won international recognition at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, going head-to-head with sparklers from around the world, earning top honors – a double gold medal, one of only two awarded.

“This is an occasion for Iowa sparkling winemakers to have a little competitive fun to see whose corks can fly the farthest,” said John, “and the only prize is the satisfaction of having won.”

In the two-round Cork Flight event, sparkling winemakers of Iowa will shoot their corks from a fixed table inside Washington Hall (Kirkwood Community College). Judges will measure each flight and the winner will be announced after the final cork has launched. The Friday, February 27th event will begin at 7pm and the public is invited to attend and are encouraged to arrive by 6:45pm.

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