Our Journey...

Grape Harvest has begun for 2021 at Bingham Family Vineyards

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.

Grapeharvest harvesting at Bingham Family Vineyards

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.

Grape harvester next to a dump bin harvesting grapes at Bingham Family Vineyards.
Grapes being unloaded from a grape harvester into a dump cart pulled by a small tractor.

Then the harvester moves on while the dump truck takes a load of grapes back to the winery area.

Load of Abarino grapes in a dump cart after being harvested at Bingham Family Vineyards.

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.

Albarino grapes being dumped into bins after harvest from a dump cart.

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.


Sam Jennings, Head Winemaker at Bingham Family Vineyards

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.

Sam Jennings, winemaker at Bingham Family Vineyards in Meadow, Texas.

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 Jennings, Daniel Bingham, and Rogelio Orocio filtering and tasting wine at Bingham Family Vineyards Winery, Meadow, Texas.

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.

Sam Jennings pouring wine into a glass for a tasting.

Favorite Memory

“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.”

Sam Jennings posed with wine bottles.

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.


Compost for Organic Row Crops at Bingham Farm

Cliff, our Dirt Farmer, likes to get the compost out in the late summer before deep breaking the soil to incorporate the compost into the soil while also diminishing the amount of weeds and weed seeds in the ground.

Looks like piles of dirt, but it is an investment in the future.

Piles of compost at Bingham Organic Farm.

So, the big trucks have dumped off loads of compost from South Plain Compost on several of our farms. South Plains Compost also sells their quality compost to the public as Back to Nature. This is one of the fields that the compost has been delivered to.

Front loader with piles of compost along the crop rows at Bingham Organic Farms.

The frontend loader is needed to move the compost around and the compost spreaders below distribute it in the fields.

Compost spreaders at Bingham Organic Farms.

Compost is a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.

Close up photo of compost at Bingham Organic Farms.
Piles of compost at Bingham Organic Farm.

This will keep the tractors busy in the organic row crops. But vineyards and winery will soon be the busy place as harvest may begin today or very soon.

Looking forward to the future.


Friends in the Vineyards

This time of year is fun because we get visits from our winery friends that we sell grapes to such as Dave Reilly, winemaker at Duchman Family Winery. Great guy and great winemaker. He does a wonderful job with the white grapes and the Dolcetto that we send to them. The added bonus was that he brought his lovely wife, Linda.

Dave Reilly and Cliff Bingham standing in Bingham Family Vineyards.

Another wonderful aspect of these visits is that these wineries often bring us some fruit of their labors (made with the fruit of our labor). Dave brought us bottles of 2019 Duchman Family Winery Viognier that we shared with the crew here.

Working Together to Create Great Wine

When the Becker crew came by for a visit they brought a bottle of a very small lot production wine. They usually use our Semillon grapes for blending with other wines, but this varietal wine was aged for over 40 months in oak. Jon Leahy, their winemaker, is a hoot, but more importantly he makes great wines. This Semillon wine was complex and delightful.

But the main purpose for the wineries coming to visit is to get a look at the vineyards to inspect the crop of grapes that are coming their way. And yes, all seem to be looking forward to this year’s harvest which may start this week for us.

Red Wine Grapes that are Close, But Not Ready for Harvest

The question is, “When is the optimal time to harvest a particular grape in a particular block?” The white grapes are usually ready first. But this year the red grapes are coming along. As you can see they are not ready yet, but we are testing their juice for brix and pH as well as tasting them. Tasting them and looking at their seeds is important as well.

Soon, I’ll be showing you photos of ripe red wine grapes.

A Blast from the Past – 2012

I was just about to post this when Facebook showed me a photo from 2012 that Dave Reilly took at Duchman Family Winery back in 2012. Yes, we have been friends for a long time. He put the comment with it of, “20 tons of Bingham Family Vineyard Dolcetto hit the loading dock today. We are crushing away… Dave Reilly, Duchman Family Winery.”

20 tons of Bingham Family Vineyard Dolcetto hit the loading dock today. We are crushing away... Dave Reilly, Duchman Family Winery
Photo taken by Dave Reilly at Duchman Family Winery

Lovely having friends in the business.


Testing Grapes and Winery Update 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.

Juicing grapes with a cone strainer and pestle set after grapes are plucked from the stems.
Juicing grapes with a cone strainer and pestle set after grapes are plucked from the stems.

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.


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