Out in the vineyards ...
Update after the Freezing Weather in the Vineyards
Texas grape growers have talked about the problem of early spring freezes in the vineyards for several years. If the plants are awakened and ready for spring, they begin to produce buds. If a hard and long enough freeze happens, then these buds can be killed causing a loss of crop for the year. There has also always been a problem at times with freezing weather in late fall or during the winter, but “winter kill” as they sometimes call it has not been a major problem until this last season.
Normally we enjoy the moisture from the winter cold or snow such as this photo shows from February of this year. You can see more photos from time here. But the vines need to be dormant or “sleeping” for them to not be damaged by the cold weather.
Last year on October 31, 2019 there was freezing weather that caused a large amount of crop loss for High Plains grape growers. Vines that have been weakened by drought, insect injury, disease, chemical drift, or mechanical injury to the trunk or roots, will be more susceptible to this type of cold weather. The effect is much the same as the COVID virus on people with underlying health conditions. The underlying health of the vine is a factor in how much damage freezing weather will cause to the plant.
Shelly Wilfong, host of ThisisTexasWine.com podcast, discussed this with Daniel Pate on a recent podcast.
You will want to check out her web site and hear more of Shelly’s podcasts. The interview that she had with Jessica Duprey was enlightening to hear Jessica’s view on what “Texas” on the label should mean for Texas wines. Jessica has her own vineyard, so she has learned how hard it is to grow wine grapes. We do appreciate both Jessica and Shelly for their stories about Texas wine for all of us to enjoy.
We are now retraining and working with our vines to overcome damage that was caused last year. Then on October 26th through the 28th last month, we had freezing weather in the vineyards. One very good aspect about that weather event was the moisture. The moisture creates a protective layer for the vines as well as giving much needed moisture back to the soil.
Our fields for organic row crops are so dry this year that we will not be doing much deep breaking (or plowing) of the fields during the winter to destroy weeds because of lack of moisture in the soil. But we are preparing the fields as we are looking forward to planting hemp again.
Back to checking on the vineyards, our Dirt Farmer, Cliff, has been out in the vineyards cutting vines and looking for life. So what does that look like? It looks … green.
Do you see green? Yes! Yea! That is what we hope for. Signs of life. Cliff did not find much of any damage in the vines from this last freeze. This freeze will actually help develop the cold hardiness of the vines for the rest of the winter.
We hope and pray for all vines and people that we can make it through this winter freezes and the COVID virus.
First Day of Bingham Grape Harvest in 2020
Today was the first day for us to harvest grapes in 2020. Just a few rows of Gewürztraminer. Crop damage it too bad to salvage any of the fruit, but it has to be harvested for records. I guess there will not be any estate Gewürztraminer for 2020 from Bingham. But we have just released our 2019 Gewürztraminer. As all our varietal wines, this wine will be club exclusive for three months to give our club member the first change to buy and enjoy this wine.
If you are not a club member, there may be some bottles of our 2018 Gewürztraminer available at one of our tasting rooms. Consider joining one of our wine clubs to have the best access to our wines.
We do have a new (to us) harvester to try out today. We traded in our two harvesters that had to be pulled by a tractor for this self-propelled model. Everyone was excited to see it run. It will be gentler on the vines as well as the fruit, so that we can make even better quality wine to share with our friends.
Not much Viognier this year either, but Petit Verdot looks promising. I’ll keep you updated on the harvest.
Visit to Becker Vineyards in 2009
The first year that we grew grapes for Becker Vineyards was in 2006. That was the first year that we sold grapes to any winery. We appreciated the fact that Becker signed a contract with us before we had put an acre in the ground. We all worked hard to produce great grapes that Becker could make into great wine, and they did just that.
We visited Becker Vineyards as a family in 2009. Richard and Bunny Becker were our gracious host and hostess as well as all of the great bunch at Becker.
We had a wonderful tour of the winery with Dr. Robert Becker telling us about their expansions and new projects. As well as how they were taking good care of our grapes, making wonderful wine. They were building one of their tasting room addition at the time.
We had a wonderful concert afterwards with even our youngest, Brianna, playing a little piece for Bunny and Robert. The whole gang played some fiddle music with Robert joining in on his wash tub bass.
Great times to remember on a #ThrowBackThursday.
In the Vineyards and the Farm, June 2, 2020
Many of our vineyards will not be fruitful this year, but the green is showing hope to start working on the vineyards for fruit for next year. Extensive training will be going on the prepare the best cordons for fruitfulness for coming years.
You can see wheat growing in the forefront of a few of these photos.
We are harvesting this organic hard winter wheat right now. We save some for ourselves to make the best whole wheat bread. One of my favorite foods.
Interesting that you can take a grain, grind it up, add some honey, yeast, and salt to make fluffy whole wheat bread.
Our family and employee garden is doing well. Some of our children, employees, and their children have been helping. Time to lower the bags used for wind shields for the baby plants. Sierra, our daughter found a mouse caught in one. That wasn’t the most pleasant experience for any of the workers.
A few rows of corn were added in the foreground. I wonder if they planted any black-eyed-peas. When we plant those in our commercial row crops, we usually just harvest some from those fields for freezing.
Then there is the new-to-us crop that we are planting on our TDA certified organic land, hemp. We have acres plant for CBD and some for textile. We even have some experimental dry land acres planted to see how our soil and water will do with the Hemp.
Here they were planting last week.
That’s the update from the vineyard and the farms from this week. We hope that you all are doing well in these times and working towards planting seeds of hope yourselves.
Vineyard Update for May 19, 2020
After the last vineyard update post, we all need something a little more encouraging, right?. So, I went over to Dandy’s vineyard to take photos of the Petit Verdot which looks wonderful as you will see below. If you remember, we had left some double canes on some of these vines to make sure that their would be enough buds and thus enough fruit. This photo was taken in April.
Looks a little like sloppy pruning, but it was all done with skill and thoughtfullness. We so appreciate our vineyard workers that are local, but are seasonal workers. We hope to be able to give them more seasonal work soon as we get our tasting rooms opened for sales again.
Yes, at our estate winery the money that you spend on wine at our tasting rooms comes all of the way down to pay our vineyards workers for their hard work.
Back to the present state of the same Petit Verdot as of yesterday, mid-may.
As you can see, these vines are now so healthy and fruitful that we need to get the vineyard crews out there to do some leaf pulling.
Not sure about the “shorter finish” part, but she does add that Petit Verdot “has shown promise as a single-varietal wine in warmer climates where it makes smooth full-bodied reds.” And yes, the Texas High Plains AVA is a warm climate. We also are enjoying the way it enhances our red wine blends.
Our 2017 Petit Verdot is currently limited to club members only in their club shipments.
But the 2018 and 2019 Petit Verdot is currently oak aging for future sales.
Our guests personally love our Petit Verdot, beautiful in color. In the first vintage year of our winery, our 2014 Petit Verdot was our first wine to sell out.
Our club members are a valued part of our team, so we allow them three months to purchase our new varietal wine releases before the general public.
Our 2017 Petit Verdot was included in several of our traditional spring club packages as well as available for other clubs to add to their shipments. It will also be included in many of our traditional club packages in the fall. Now would be a good time to consider joining our wine club so that you too can receive our limited production wines such as the 2017 Petit Verdot. Which is also true of our 2017 Mourvedre, 2017 Carignan, and our 2017 Merlot.
Read more about our traditional wine clubs and choose the number of bottles that you would like to receive twice a year in shipments. Our Pioneer club is especially helpful for your personalization choices because you will be able to change out any of the 18 bottles that are preselected for you. Learn more about our traditional wine clubs here.
We pray that we may all pull out of this crisis to celebrate life!