Out in the vineyards ...
When we planted our first vines in 2003, we thought that those vines would last fifty years. But there are hazards to growing grapes on the High Plains. We were happy with about 200 acres of grapes, but as we have had a loss of vines, we are needing to plant new vines to replace some of our existing vines.
Continuing our Legacy of Quality Estate Wine
Quality wine starts in the vineyard. We want to continue to produce quality estate wine for our customers as well as providing grapes for our winery friends around the state. So planning must begin now for wines that will not be bottled for three, four, five, or more years in the future.
Newly Planted Dormant Vine
These photos show you that these plantings are a little different than our usual planting of vines.
Yes, this is what our plantings normally look like, little brown sticks.
Planting Live Vines
We normally plant dormant vines like the one above. But since we were not able to get the varieties on the root stocks that we were wanting in dormant vines, we planted some live vines like these that we were able to purchase.
These plants look a little more encouraging since they have a few green leaves.
New Plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Trebbiano, and Graciano
Rows and rows have gone in this spring. Approximately 22 acres. Perhaps we will get a few more acres in later this spring and a few more next year. This spring we have planted more Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Trebbiano, and Graciano.
Graciano is a newer variety of grapes for us to grow. We will be bottling our first estate Graciano in a few months from our 2019 harvest of grapes.
Team Work with The Dirt Farmer
The grapes vines are put into the ground much the same way as the dormant vines. You just have to untangle the leaves, hard work made a little harder.
Lots of team work going on here. The workers like putting in new vineyards because the results are tangible. They can see the results of your hard work.
After the grapes go in, the drip tape follows behind to water the vines. Our original plantings have underground drip, but we have used above ground tape for our recent plantings.
Here you see the new vines going up next to our older vineyards.
More farming news coming soon about our hemp and truffle projects.
We Are Open Today After the Cold Weather
Now that Texas is warming up, all of our locations are back in action, Meadow, Fredericksburg, and Grapevine. The weather has brought much needed moisture to the farm.
The weather has also slowed down shipping as a choice, but orders will begin going out on Monday. So consider getting an order in this weekend, to add to your celebrations in the coming weeks.
You may wonder what all of this snow and ice means for the vineyards and the organic row crops. The short answer is that for the row crops this moisture is wonderful. We had been going into one of the driest springs that we have had in the recent past. Fields had already been prepared for planting because we were not sure that we would have enough moisture in the soil to get them ready later in the spring. Now we are ready to plant cotton, hemp, wheat, and whatever other contracts are looking good for year.
The vineyards on the other hand are an unknown. Today the Dirt Farmer (Cliff) and two of his daughters will be out in the vineyards gathering “sticks” as one daughter calls them. The buds on these “sticks” will be cut with a blade to see if there is any green life showing in them. If not, then they are dead and will not produce fruit (grapes) later in the year.
So we wait and see. Maybe later this weekend, we will know some news. In a few more weeks, we will know even better.
Still hoping and praying that all are warm and safe.
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.