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Midwestern farmers take on traditional wine beliefs as they build a new wine frontier in America’s Heartland.


Forget everything you thought you knew about wine! Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America's Heartland explores the difficulties and excitement of creating a new wine region in the Heartland and rewrites winemaking history in the process.


Wine Diamonds: Uncorking America’s Heartland begins by tracing the historical significance of one the early grape breeding pioneers of the Midwest, Elmer Swenson and then explores the challenges of grape production, wine making and consumer acceptance in the upper Midwest. Five winemaking families share their personal stories of struggle and success as they attempt to create a new wine region. World renowned wine authorities, Doug Frost (Master Sommelier and Master of Wine) and Tim Hanni (Master of Wine) answer the big questions about cold-hardy grapes and wine. The film ends on a high note as key figures in the wine industry imagine the future of this new nontraditional wine region.

Less than 100 years ago Iowa was the sixth leading producer of grapes in the United States. The 1900 U.S. agricultural census shows Iowa produced 7,403,900 pounds of grapes and 76,301 gallons of farm-processed wine. Three historical events significantly altered the fate of this wine growing region: Prohibition, the advent of potent and highly volatized herbicides (e.g., Roundup or 2,4-D), and the improvement of cheaper and more efficient row-crop farming (e.g., corn and soy beans).

By the 1950’s private grape breeders began growing and hybridizing grapes in the upper Midwest and Elmer Swenson ultimately emerged as a leader, later joining the University of Minnesota grape breeding program. Traditional, old-world wine grapes require milder climates and longer growing seasons and cannot thrive in areas that get as cold as -40f. By the 1970’s a new wave of winemakers began to emerge and by the late 1990’s it was clear winemaking was taking off.

Traditional farm families turned to grape growing as a means to diversify their crop portfolios but also to keep families together. The wine businesses these generational farm families have created is a boon to rural areas all across the heartland.

Internationally recognized wine authorities and experts nod approvingly at the wines emerging from these new wines. Grapes such as Marquette, Frontenac, Brianna and La Crescent have captured the attention of wine fans from across the world.

Wine aficionados are often a little slow to recognize and accept new wine regions and grapes; however, the experts and fans agree something great is happening in the heartland. Traditional method sparkling wines are gaining appreciation and look to be very promising for this new wine region.


Wine Diamonds (n)A slang term used by wine aficionados to describe the crystallized precipitate of Potassium Bitartrate (aka: Tartaric Acid) that accumulates on the underside of closures, corks and sometimes found in the sludgy sediment at the bottom of wine bottles.

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