The film gives an in depth history of grape growing and wine making in the Midwest and Heartland regions of Untied States. Iowa was once the 6th largest producer of grapes in the country! And Minnesota is home to the United States first American Viticultural Area. Wait…really? Yes, really. So what happened? A number of things happened to squash the wine industry across the heartland. First was Prohibition. Then, in the 1950’s mass produced pesticides thwarted grape growing efforts.
So, how did grape growing return to these regions? A Wisconsin farmer named Elmer Swenson was truly a pioneer of hybrid grapes that were suited to cold (-40) temperatures. He eventually joined the University of Minnesota grape breeding program, and the grape growing abilities of these regions were forever changed.
Research and development of these cold climate hybrids has continued for several decades. Today its clear that these hybrids not only thrive in these regions but also create quality, award winning wines.
Wine Diamonds tells the story of 5 families who grow grapes and make wine in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. If you find yourself being somewhat skeptical, it is not necessary to look too far back in history to see that many people felt the same way about regions that have gained an international stage for the amazing wine they produce.
Fifty years ago, people scoffed at the idea of world quality wine coming out of California. Thirty years ago the same was said about Oregon and Washington State. Twenty years ago people didn’t know that U.S. regions like New York and Virginia were included in the top five wine producing states.
So, pour yourself a glass of wine, grab some nibbles and watch Wine Diamonds. Your skepticism just might be replaced by awe.
Full Disclosure Policy: I met the Producer of this film, Brad Johnson through the Wine Bloggers Conference. I was provided the opportunity to watch this film in it’s entirety free of charge.