I recall in 2013, while writing for the Lubbock Avalanch-Journal, I first interviewed Cliff Bingham co-owner of Bingham Family Vineyards about when and how his family’s Texas High Plains winegrowing exploits got started in Meadow, TX. He said “nine years”, but paused then said, “It’s been since 2003, that’s 10 years. It’s all happened very fast.”
For the Binghams, it started with a discussion with another dirt-farming friend, Jet Wilmeth. At the time, Wilmeth had been growing grapes for a few years on his property in Tokio, TX. The Bingham family farm already had good success with cotton (and organic cotton) and peanuts, occasionally working in black-eyed peas, sesame seeds and more. Wilmeth suggested that Cliff also consider grape growing as it appeared a better use of their gradually dwindling irrigation water from the Ogallala Aquifer.
Over time, Husband and wife, Cliff and Betty Bingham, and their family clan built their ~250 acre vineyard operations into one of the larger grape growing endeavors on the Texas High Plains. Their location in Meadow, TX, is just a short drive south of Lubbock. Next, came their winery followed by tasting rooms in Meadow and Grapevine, TX. In the fall of 2018, they opened their third location, a tasting room in Fredericksburg, TX, partnering with Yee Haw Ranch Outfitters that wanted to include an authentic tasting room at its new location on the Route 290 Wine Trail just east of town.
Our next Hill Country tasting stop is at this location. The wine I’ve poured in my glass is Bingham Family Vineyards 2018 Dirt Farmer a dry red blend, 100% Texas grown and made on the Texas High Plains. As it says right on the back label, ”The French call it terroir. In Texas we call it dirt.”
The Bingham Family Vineyards 2018 Dirt Farmer is a blend of Texas High Plains grown Tempranillo combined with similarly raised Dolcetto, Carignan and Mourvèdre to create a palate adventure in this bold red wine. It’s a Gold Medal Winner at this year’s 2022 San Antonio Rodeo and comes with a ripe red fruit nose enveloped in a mantle of red dust, Mediterranean herbs and vanilla. The wine hits the palate – no impacts the palate – with deeper black raspberry and plum notes, dry smooth tannins, crisp acidity that combine to support the 14.6% alcohol that creates this well balanced wine tasting experience. To pair this wine, bring it to your table to join grilled steak, pork sausage, or lamb chops, and don’t spare the grilled veggies.
This wine, “Dirt Farmer”, celebrates six generations of hard working men and women who have toiled in Texas High Plains fields and created an agriculture way of life in this part of Texas, a tradition that also became a way of life for the Bingham family. If you are a wine drinker that looks for wines with quality and an authentic “sense of place”, Bingham Family Vineyards Dirt Farmer is for you.
The reference to ”Dirt Farmer” in this wine’s name captures the roots of the Bingham Family’s agricultural tradition: farmers who eke out a living from a farm with scuffed, mud-caked boots, faded jeans, and rugged, sun-baked hands. Conventionally, it is referred to a farm on poor land. Well, in this case, grapes are one crop that thrive on dirt with limited vigor but with good minerally character and drainage. It makes the vines struggle, and forces them to direct more energy into making high quality grapes. The Texas High Plains combination of red sandy clay loam over porous caliche limestone is simply the perfect dirt for growing wine grapes, a terroir (or dirt) appreciated by vignerons worldwide.
Bingham Family Vineyards is a multi-generational agricultural and wine growing family that promises a joyous wine tasting experience with 100% Texas grown and crafted wines grown on their Texas High Plains estate vineyard. Click here for more information.
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Bingham Family Winery Fredericksburg Tasting Room:
3915 B, US-290 E, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Vineyard Location: 645 FM 303, Meadow, Texas 79345
Tele: (806) 585-6616 Email: friends@Bingham.wine
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Photo Credits: BinghamFamilyVineyards.com, VisitFrederickburgTX.com, FredericksburgTexas-online.com, VintageTexas.com
Have any of you been to the Texas High Plains?