At the winery ...
Last week harvest started. The majority of those grapes will be sold to other wineries for their production. Our winery is preparing for the fermentation of many of those grapes for our wine label.
At the winery, we just received a truck load of barrels, so that we will be ready for the stage after fermentation for some of our wines which is barrel aging. Wine is aged in barrels for flavor development, maturity, and longevity after bottling.
We use about 85% French oak barrels and 15% American oak barrels. Our red wines are oak aged for different periods of time depending on the intended style of the wine. Only a few of our white wines are barrel aged. Those are our reserve white wines and those blended for our Windmill wine blend.
Nice to know that those wonderful grapes that are currently being harvested will have a good home in the coming days.
Harvest began for 2021 on Monday of this week with Albariño going to Doug Lewis at Lewis Wines.
I barely made it out there at they were finishing up in the morning.
This is our current harvester. A Gregoire, which we purchased this last year used from our local dealer. Sometime I should do a post with photos of the different harvesters that we have had through the years. Here they are about to unload into the dump cart which will take the grapes back to the winery.
Then the harvester moves on while the dump truck takes a load of grapes back to the winery area.
These dump carts will then dump the grapes into bins which will be weighed and then loaded on a truck to be taken to Doug and the workers at Lewis Wines for pressing. The object here of course is to get the grapes into those white containers rather than between the bins or outside of those bins.
All in a morning’s work. Or usually all in a night’s work, since that is usually when we do harvest.
There will be six or more weeks of harvest to come. But if this heat keeps up the vast majority in the next three weeks.
Say “Hello,” to our new Winemaker, Sam Jennings! Sam joined our team in July 2021 and has already made such an impact as both a creative manager and leader.
“I want to help pioneer the Texas wine industry and help show the world that Texas can produce some amazing world class wines,” said Jennings.
Background, Education, and Future Goals
Sam is a Navy brat, and his father’s work with the US Navy took them all over the United States growing up. He has lived in Virginia, South Carolina, New York, Tennessee, New Mexico, Washington, Montana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, California, and now, Texas.
Much of Sam’s learning about enology came from Washing State University Extension course work as well as working in both large and small wineries in Washington, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Minnesota. As well as traveling throughout the US, Europe, South America, South Africa, and Asia for his wine related work. His focus now will be on producing 100% Texas grown estate wines for Bingham Family Vineyards.
Sam and his finance Amanda now both live in Lubbock, Texas close to Meadow where our winery is located.
Sam’s Thoughts and Interests
Sam’s life motto is “Don’t sweat the small stuff. If things seem difficult, step back, take a deep breath and know tomorrow will be a new day.” He enjoys fishing and restoring old cars in his free time.
During sports season you can catch Sam watching the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners while sipping his favorite Bingham wine, 2019 Reserve Viognier. This wine is yet to be released, but when you are the winemaker you get to an early start. Watch for it’s release later this year.
“My first official award for wine was in 2006 at our little county fair in Washington State. I was just starting my apprenticeship and won best of show for my Merlot and received a little trophy- I still have the little trophy and that award means more to me than any other award or review I have ever received.”
This is our first #TeamTuesday post, but we hope to have more in the weeks to come introducing all of the Binghams and our great team at Bingham Family Vineyards.
We have been testing grapes at Bingham Family Vineyards for three weeks now. Yesterday every block of grapes was tested. A few were tested today, and tomorrow, they will all be tested again. Usually the testing is spread out a little more, but there is a forecast for rain this weekend. There may be a few grapes that we need to get in before the rain such as the Gewürztraminer.
We just have one acre of those grapes, but everyone seems to like the semi-sweet wine that we make with those. We have been sold out for several months of our 2019. There will not be any 2020, so we are looking forward to the 2021 vintage this year. We have kept back a few bottles for our fall Traditional Club shipments.
After testing it looks like the Gewürztraminer grapes need a little more time for quality wine, but the Albariño might be ready for one of our winery friends before the weekend, so harvest may start very soon.
Yesterday, and normally, we use the big Home Depot buckets to crush the fruit to obtain the juice for testing. Testing for brix (or the amount of sugar in the grapes) and pH (which you want not too high and not too low). The timing of the harvest of grapes is important for the quality of the wine.
Today the girl’s used the old cone strainer and pestle to remove the juice from the skins before testing the juice.
Now on the work at the winery. Let’s take a look. Lights are going into the new grape press room which is huge.
Everything is still a little messy at the winery as we are finishing up the room for the presses and the big stainless steel storage tanks. Lights have gone up and now for the big white glycol coolant tubes to be put into place.
Well, the glycol tubes are brown at the moment, but they will be cleaned up and white again before they get put in. And all the mechanics of the presses checked out and in order.
Harvest is upon us, so this work will be finished up soon. Can’t wait to show you the photos then.
Several New Additions at the Winery
We have several new additions at the winery, and I am excited to tell you about a couple of those today. A new building addition and a new head winemaker.
Bringing the Presses Inside
We have made several building additions in the last couple of months. One was to build out the building structure over our press machines that used to be just out on the back porch of the winery. They were easy to get to when working with them, but not the best place to be out in the sun, wind, and other weather extremes.
This work was started the end of May.
Much work has been done since then finishing out the sides, ceiling, and insulation. The new building will have a garage door that can be opened into the old winery area as well as another large opening to the outside for grapes to be brought in for processing to make them into wonderful wine.
Our two presses here are two of the largest in the state of Texas at 18 and 35 tons. Daniel says that we once processed 43 tons through the larger press. This is how we are able to do custom work for other vineyards and wineries as well as our own estate wines from the grapes that we grow.
The sides and ceiling are now in as is the spray foam insulation.
More photos once the area is finished, cleaned up and readied for harvest which we expect to begin mid-August to end of August and continue through September.
Sam Jennings, Our New Head Winemaker
We are welcoming a new head winemaker at Bingham Family Vineyards. Daniel, our son, was our head winemaker, has decided to pursing a Master of Arts in counseling at Covenant Theological Seminary to become a LPC counselor. Thus we have searched and found a winemaker that we think will continue to lead our winery making quality wine.
Sam and Daniel will be working together to make a smooth transition to continue our quality production of fine wines for our friends.
Sam, Daniel, and Ro (our intern who is going to Texas Tech University) are filtering white wine to ready it for bottling. This will be our 2019 Windmill. As many of you know, our Windmill is an oaked white blend. Our 2019 will be a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne which was bottled yesterday and today.
More about Sam next Tuesday as we plan to share with you each Tuesday (#TeamTuesday) a different family or team member and what they do here at Bingham Family Vineyards whether they are in Meadow, Grapevine, or Fredericksburg.