Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Journey

Cliff Bingham in the Tempranillo Vineyard

The Monday after the Blood Moon, I drove up to the High Plains. It is a beautiful drive, I love Texas; the Hill Country is so scenic with the rolling hills and winding roads. As you travel west you go up a series of plateaus, rising in elevation and the terrain evens out to become very flat with the enormous dome of the sky above.  I was amazed by the number of electricity generating windmills along the way. Well over a thousand of them by my estimation.

There are several very interesting cities along the way; San Angelo and Big Springs just to mention two. My cell phone GPS did an excellent job navigating my route. I was able to drive right to the Bingham Family Vineyards.  The appearance is of the brick farm homes in the area because this was the family home up until a few years ago. There are large vineyard plantings in the fields around the house, barn and winery.  The open space in this part of the country makes gauging distance and size difficult.

Puppy sez "They're ripe!"
Greeted by winemaker, Daniel Bingham and then I meet Cliff Bingham, Grape Grower and so much more. I was guided on a tour vineyards looking at Tempranillo, Vermintino and Dolcetto. Meet the neighbor's puppy, cutest ever, and he loved eating the grapes!

My tour of the winery was with Manuel Lechuga, he has been growing grapes and making wine in the Texas High Plains for twenty-eight years!  Manuel worked with Bobby Cox at Pheasant Ridge Winery until a few years ago. Tasting from a wealth of barrels, Manuel showed me a delicious array of wines; Merlot, Tempranillo, Dolcetto, Petite Verdot and wine in OLD barrels; 2009, 2006 and 2004!  Eleven years in barrel! Does anybody outside of Spain do this?  The wines are profound and amazing! (The Dugout, Cab Blend, is a wonderful result of this extreme barrel aging program.)

After this we went to the Bingham Family home for dinner tasting the wines in bottle. There were numerous family members and several wines to taste. I of course, kept up with it all. (No pop quizzes, please.) It was a wonderful evening and as dinner ended and I was heading back to the winery to stay the night. It seemed like the wonders were about to cease. I was in my car following Cliff in his truck, as we turned on to the FM road he stopped got out and came to my car asking; "Do you want to see harvest?" My answer; "YES!!!"

We pulled to the side of the Tempranillo vineyard we had visited in daylight. It was now after 10:00 pm, a cool night, dark; country dark, the only light the flood lights on the tractors working. One pulling the harvester and two tractors each pulling a bin the size of a modest Winnebago, to receive the grapes from each pass of the harvester.  The tractors with bins then rush over to the winery to pour their load into smaller bins, that are still pretty big. This pour was into a series of three bins with Daniel Binghanm standing in front of them. It looked like a Niagara Falls of grapes.  It is hear that I wished I had my cell phone camera, only all the GPS guidance had zapped my battery to 0%.  (I will be taking pictures next harvest.)  At the winery there is a forklift zipping back and forth, giant bins of grapes being pushed, pulled, lifted and hauled. Destemmer crusher whirling, semi-trucks idling while being filled with bins of Tempranillo right off the vines, and a large team of people working in full court press.  This was more exhilarating that watching the Spurs in the playoffs! This scene was a whirlwind, as was the day. As the semi-trucks headed out to the Hill Country where a great winemaker will take over them and make beautiful wines, I went to bed; exhausted from the long day. The Bingham family kept working through the night.

I stayed the next day we discussed our business plans and agreements. I went to check out "the competition" or wineries I should have visited long, long ago. The Binghams and I easily and cordially came together on our Brokerage Agreement. The next morning we loaded samples into my car with an absolutely breathtaking sunrise for this NEW day!

It was a journey to come up here, one that began many years ago. It feels great, right and very promising. Like anyone on a journey; somehow I am surprised that it has not ended but grown into an odyssey better that I could have asked for...

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth!" Psalm 98:4

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blind Tasted and Tested...

The first supper where Bingham Family Vineyards wines are served in San Antonio was for my dear friends, the taste makers for San Antonio or as they like to be called; The Varsity Squad. In attendance; Dr. Gary Penny, Dr. Deborah Strus, Lisa Elliott, Tony Cherone, Veronique Cecilia Barretto (full time Sommelier for Pedernales Cellars, Wine Consultant for Folc Restaurant and 'part time' Wine Snob), Gloria Baretto and Ramon Baretto. All experienced wine enthusiasts and foodies.

I gathered them to blind taste the wines from Bingham Family Vineyards against counterpart wines from famous and popular producers from other regions of the world. Not a uncommon practice for wineries and wine professionals to engage in to asses the quality and perceived value of their wines in the glass. And, I will admit more than a little nerve racking when it is your wines being judged.  I did my best to be fearless and put in very serious competition from the 'counterpart wines.'

There were five pairs of wines tasted blind. We tasted each pair and discussed and voted on a preference as we went. The reveal was at the end after all the wines were tasted. Below are my tasting notes for each wine and then a summery of how the group felt.
The group picked Caymus blind and once revealed some recanted their choice, there seems to be love/hate reputation for the Conundrum wines. Blind the Short Rows was thought to be a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Revealed the group could see the potential for sweet white drinkers, the target audience, all in attendance being dry wine lovers. Short Rows provides an excellent value and held it's own against a popular wine that is more expensive.
The group tied these two up in votes, they are very comparable. I expected the wines to be wildly different with one being a single variety and the other a blend, but I was wrong and very pleasantly surprised. The Cloudbust shows that Bingham Family Vineyards is not only delivering quality but value too! The challenge Texas wineries need to overcome, and we have done it!
The group picked the Orin Swift unanimously. It is the best rose I have tasted this year; it is amazing!  I was tasting blind also and I was SURE it was the Sunset Rose. The two roses are very similar and both are excellent.  Orin Swift is the hottest brand going; the same team who make the Locations wines, the "TX" blend that partnered with Kim McPherson and the bottles FLEW off the shelf! 
The group picked the Turnrow by one vote, everyone loved the floral aromas and found the wine complex and delicious. The Spanish wine was very good and had that old oak note that some liked and some not so much.
The group picked the Dugout by two votes, they loved the complexity and oak notes. The Beringer Knights Valley was the most different; some thought it was a Malbec. Curiously Beringer seems to have change it's style to be less Napa Cab like. Why?  The Dugout taste like the Knights Valley did ten years ago; it is berry nice.

Overall assessment; three winners out of five selections were made for the Bingham wines. In one instance the wine was out of place in flavor profile or price point, and that was the Beringer Knights Valley. I am very encouraged to witness the value (quality and price) that we are offering. The tasters were very excited on the reveal of the Bingham wines and to be the first in San Antonio to try the wines. It was a very warm and enthusiastic reception. I need you to start spreading the word that the Bingham wines are coming to San Antonio, Austin, the Hill Country and surrounding areas! And look for your opportunity to taste them yourself...

My next posts will cover my journey in more detail...
Watch this blog for notice of consumer events and tasting opportunities we will have for you!
Please click the "Join This Site" button over to the right in the "Followers" box to stay in the know.

In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have a Tasting Room you can visit:
620 S Main St., Grapevine, Texas  |   phone (682) 651-8668

Or, Join the Wine Club here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My New Job!!!

I an very proud and excited to announce I am Representing Bingham Family Vineyards' wines in South and Central Texas!!!  I will be distributing these amazing wines in San Antonio, Austin, the Hill Country and the surrounding areas.  The Binghams are one of the largest growers in the High Plains of Texas. They sell grapes to over twenty Texas wineries; so Texas wine drinkers are likely to have tasted the fruits of their labor before. Some of Texas' most prestigious awards are won by the grapes grown in their vineyards. When I saw that the Binghams were starting to make wine, I was very excited by the prospect, and now, to get to share them with you is a dream come true.

"An adventure of music, children, grapes, and organic crops on the High Plains of Texas." Is how they describe themselves to the world. Cliff Bingham, a fourth generation farmer in Terry County, began full time farming in 1982. Since 1992, Cliff and his wife, Betty have served as pioneers in the Texas organic cotton and peanut markets. They diversified their farming operations in 2003 by planting grape vines. Today the Binghams currently own or manage over 200 acres of wine grapes in the Texas High Plains AVA. They are very pleased to be starting a winery. They plan to continue selling grapes to their winery friends across the state who are producing award winning wines. 

I can tell you they are NO ordinary family; they have eleven children, Betty homeschools them, they are very talented; all play music, some are artist, they all display a love for life, they are taking care of God’s earth, and have a deep and abiding love for the Lord.  All are involved and committed to the winery and vineyards; they work very hard and the Lord has blessed them in abundance. They are an amazing family!

dugout.jpgThe wines I will be selling:

DUGOUT (Cab red blend)
A full bodied blend that combines the scent of aged leather with the bold flavor of cranberry and a buttery finish. It is an oak aged blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
The first of six generations of the family settled in the High Plains in the early 1900's and lived in a dugout.
Multi Vintage Blend | SRP 25

TURNROW (TX red blend)
This blend of Mourvèdre and Tempranillo has the fruity taste of strawberries.
Turnrows are single lane dirt roads that divide farms in the flat High Plains where farmers often stop their trucks to visit with the neighbors.
Vintage 2014 | SRP 25

This dry rosé made from Mourvèdre grapes grown on the High Plains of Texas has a distinct flavor of strawberry and a pleasant dark cherry and chocolate aroma.
The flat terrain and clear skies on the High Plains produce some of the most gorgeous sunsets.
Vintage 2014 | SRP 18

CLOUDBURST (dry white)
Trebbiano, Vermentino, Roussanne, Viognier, and Chardonnay with a medium body ending with a hint of apple.
The High Plains has a very dry climate, but when rain comes it very often comes quickly and yet in a very refreshing way.
Vintage 2014 | SRP 18

SHORT ROWS (sweet white)
This wine has a sweet pear aroma that mimics the taste of this wine, ending with a light, bright finish.
Short rows are the shortest rows in a field that signal the end of the workday for a weary farmer.
Vintage 2014 | SRP 15

With more to come in the future! If you know of any retailer, restaurant, bar or wine seller who would like to offer the best wines in Texas; please share my contact information with them: Steven Krueger | (210) 724-9390 |  krueger.wine@gmail.com

My next posts will cover the wines and my journey in more detail...
Watch this blog for notice of consumer events and tasting opportunities we will have for you!
Please click the "Join This Site" button over to the right in the "Followers" box to stay in the know.

In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have a Tasting Room you can visit:
620 S Main St., Grapevine, Texas  |   phone (682) 651-8668

Or, Join the Wine Club here.