Brad Johnson, Producer and Writer
Brad is a passionate public relations and marketing professional and serves the wine community. He earned his enology (winemaking) credentials at Des Moines Area Community College in 2008, his wine service credentials from Today’s Wine Professional in 2011, has worked as a winemaker assistant and external relations manager for Fireside Winery; promoted the wine industry through his writings that appeared on Make Mine Wine Magazine and as editor and publisher of Winedustry, an online wine news blog; and frequently served as a commercial wine competition judge.
Brad is passionate about Midwestern wines and with his expertise in the wine cellar, vineyard, tasting room, and selling product to retailers — he “gets” Midwestern wine! An experienced college teacher, Brad brings not only winemaking knowledge but also knowledge of social psychology and qualitative research skills that are necessary to elicit deep responses from interview participants. In addition to working on this film Brad is a marketing and public relations consultant who values using his wine skills to help winery clients reach a wide audience of wine lovers.
Favorite wines: “There are so many new varietals most folks are unaware, but if I had to pick a few, I’d select La Crescent and Brianna as my white wine favorites. La Crescent with its ability to show off similar qualities as Sauvignon Blanc and Brianna, this one is great. Big, juicy berries and possesses those delicious tropical fruit flavors and aromas. Just delicious! My red favorites are Marquette (done in a Pinot Noir style) and Frontenac as a port.
Kirk Monson, Producer & Director of Photography
Kirk is a 25 year veteran of commercial production and film making. He has worked coast to coast with national clients and Fortune 100 Companies to produce commercials, documentaries, ethnographies and reality programming. He founded his own video production company in 2002 and has won national and international awards for his work.
Kirk loves to tell stories through film and feels the real reward in his work is the people he meets in the process. Learning about Midwestern wine making and the tremendous variety of people involved has already proven to be a vastly rich resource.
“I’m proud to be an Iowan and also proud of our lead in agriculture. I was raised on a farm in North Central Iowa and appreciate the values and hard work that go with it. It’s encouraging to see Midwesterners who have left the state return to start vineyards. The opportunity to depict the process, history and future of wine making in Iowa is exciting. This is a tremendous resource for our state not only as a business, but as an opportunity to bring people together.”
Jeff Zahrt, Producer
eff is an award winning writer and producer, and helped Kirk start a production company (MVP) in 2002. He has worked on everything from bookend commercials to full length movies. You won’t find Jeff in front of the camera, as his home is behind the camera directing, producing and writing. Jeff loves telling stories through film, and always has his eye on the big picture as well as those little details (known as gremlins) that seem to find their way into a production. “Telling a story and making it come to life is a blast. Telling a story about something that is uniquely Iowa, that’s just icing on the cake.”
Jeff Fitzgerald, Aerial Photographer
Jeff is an award winning amateur winemaker with more than a decade of winemaking experience and is an advocate of the Midwest wine industry. He was a founding member of the Eastern Iowa Wine Club and superintendent of the highly successful Benton County Amateur Wine Competition. In his professional life Jeff works in the agricultural industry where he hones his Aerial Photography skills.
Rob Bauer, Graphics and Photography
Rob Bauer is a recent graduate of the University of Northern Iowa’s Media Leadership Program. He has a history filled with producing videos for nonprofits like Dance Marathon and other creative works not limited to web based comedic sketches and promotion. Rob specializes in creating visually compelling video graphics and this is his primary role in the production process of Wine Diamonds.
Lauren Chalupsky-Cannon, Narrator
Shueyville, Iowa native Lauren Cannon graduated from the University of Iowa and relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoyed eight years doing print and commercial work as on-camera talent, as well as working for Hyatt Resorts. In Arizona, she developed a great passion for hospitality, service, and wine. She pursued her wine studies through reading, tasting, and many trips to wine country.
In 2004, Lauren returned to her hometown and opened her dream business: The Secret Cellar. In addition to operating her wine shop and hosting fundraisers for local charities, she loves to design and teach wine education classes–pairing wine tasting with foods, dancing, golfing, and even painting!
Lauren completed the Level I Sommelier Course and Exam and is studying for the Certified Level II Exam. She has earned a prized judging seat alongside celebrated winemakers and Master Sommeliers at the Mid-American Wine Competition, and also judges at the Iowa State Fair Wine Competition, the Wisconsin State Fair Wine Competition, and Iowa’s first VQA (Iowa Vintners Quality Alliance).
Shayna Grundey, Graphic Design
Shayna Grundey is a Graphic Designer working in the Midwest and she has enjoyed sharing her talents, designing assets for the Wine Diamonds Documentary. Her background is in Graphic Communications, with experience in creating brand identities and designing marketing materials for events, non-profits, and various causes. Her primary role with Wine Diamonds is to create a visual identity through logo design for the project to be used across various platforms, including print, web, and other digital graphics for media use.
Logan Johnson, Grip
Logan Johnson, a graduate of the University of Iowa’s English program and completed his enology (e.g., winemaking) credentials at Kirkwood Community College under Lucas McIntire. Having grown up around and in wine industry Logan has experience working in the vineyard and the wine cellar and brings his wine knowledge and passion to this film. As a grip Logan wears many hats during a shoot, from helping set up shots, using a second camera to shoot b-roll, and doing the heavy lifting during at set-up and break down. Since filming with the team Logan has worked as: cellar assistant with Guardian Cellars (Woodinville, WA), assistant winemaker at Dancing Dragonfly Winery (WI), and is currently the Cellar Master for Gorman Winery (Woodinville, WA).