The Binghams

We are just a very ordinary family with eleven children, who homeschool, play music, love art, love life, want to take care of God’s earth, and love the Lord. We make a lot of mistakes, but we keep turning to God for inspiration, encouragement, and strength.

Family-Pic

Photo credit to Artie Limmer

 

If you want more technical information here goes:

Cliff Bingham was born in Meadow, Texas, where he resides today and cultivates 2,100 acres of organic row crops. He is a fourth-generation farmer who has grown organic cotton, black-eyed peas, guar, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sunflowers and wheat. Currently he grows cotton, peanuts, sesame, wheat, and hay grazer. These crops are all grown organically, certified by Texas Department of Agriculture. Cliff also now cares for grapes in his vineyards which aren’t certified organic, but we try to keep many of the same practices in the vineyards. Cliff still farms with his father, Eddie Bingham, who has been farming in the same area for the last 60 years.

Betty, Cliff’s wife, was raised in Andrews, Texas. Betty met Cliff at Texas Tech University, where they both earned degrees and then went directly into farming and life. They both see caring for a farm and vineyard of this magnitude as an intense joint venture requiring not only both of them, but most of their eleven children and full-time and part-time employees.

The Binghams planted their first grapes in December of 2003 on five acres. They now own or manage a more than 200 acres, ten years later.

The Bingham’s oldest son, Clint Bingham, is general manager around here at Bingham Family Vineyards and Farm. He has a lovely wife, Alexis, who does a wide assortment of work on the farm as well as taking care of their son, William.

The Bingham’s oldest daughter, Jessica, along with her husband, Tyler Oswald, have their own vineyard in the area that the Binghams helped them to establish. Tyler and Jessica have four children, Olivia, Jason, Piper, and Zoe.

The Bingham’s second oldest son, Kyle, works as the tasting room manager at their Grapevine tasting room. Kyle is married to Gracie is taking a break from nursing as they are expecting their first child.

Marissa, the Bingham’s fourth oldest child, is currently taking classes at Texas Tech University in Lubbock studying music and enology. She plans to continue helping at the winery and tasting room, teaching cello lessons, and continuing her own music training.

Blake is working as operations manager’s assistant in the vineyards and on the farm at Bingham Family Vineyards. His wife Catherine helps with our inventory and software.

Daniel is attending Texas Tech University and studying viticulture and enology. He spends his spring breaks and any other free days working on the farm and at the winery. He plays his viola, but plays his harmonica when the family kicks out the fiddle music.

Savannah is attending Texas Tech University studying violin performance. She loves classical music, but can also play a mean “Orange Blossom Special” when the time is right.

The Bingham’s other children including Emilee, Nathan, Sierra, and Brianna who study music on stringed instruments and the piano. They also like to play on their homeschool tennis team.

Married for 33 years, Cliff  still loves to play the piano, Betty enjoys singing, and their children share their musical talents with musical styles from classical to fiddle music.  They attend Providence Presbyterian Church in Lubbock, Texas.

Grapes and Vineyards

The Binghams currently own or manage over 200 acres of grapes.

Red grapes include: Cabernet Frac, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Dolcetto, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Ruby Cab, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo. White grapes include:  Albarino, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gweurztraminer, Marsanne, Moscato Giallo, Muscat of Alexandria, Pinot Grigio, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Trebbiano, Vermentino, and Viognier.

Grapes are or have been shared with: Becker Vineyards, Brennan Vineyards, Brushy Creek Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Flat Creek Estate, Grape Creek, Hilmy Cellars, Hye Meadow Winery, Landon Winery, Lewis Wines, Lost Oak Winery, McPherson Cellars, Messina Hof, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyards, Spicewood Vineyards, Tara Vineyard & Winery, Valley Mills Vineyards, Wedding Oak Winery, West Cave Cellars, Williams & Chris Vineyard, Woodrose Winery.

Climate

The High Plains (at 3,500 feet above sea level) has good soils (shallow sandy clay soils over a limestone base-caliche) and good climate. The red soil drains quickly, which grapes like, and because the caliche keeps the roots shallow, the grower can control, through irrigation, how much water they get. Thirsty plants and low-vigor soil combine to produce abundant grapes and a skimpy leaf canopy that lets in the sun so the grapes ripen.

Low rainfall and low humidity help limit vine disease problems, and cool nights improve the fruit’s quality.

The biggest dangers to vineyards on the High Plains are late freezes in spring after bud break, hail, and winter damage to young plants.

Equipment

The Binghams have been growing crops organically for since 1992. Most equipment is similar to conventional farming with the exception of a few plows that allow them to cultivate the weeds a little more aggressively. Some of the equipment consists of several larger horsepower GPS tractors; cotton harvesting equipment, including cotton strippers, module builders, and boll buggies; peanut harvesting equipment; planters; and heavy tillage plows.

Because the vineyards are on eight-foot spacing, the Binghams have a smaller set of tractors and equipment to cultivate and maintain the vineyards. They have also utilized GPS-driven tractors to perfect the accuracy of their rows. In addition, they have developed special toolbars and plows to automate the installation of the trellis system. In addition they have purchased an Oxbo mechanical pruner to allow delayed pruning to delay and minimize hand pruning.

Special Growing Conditions

The Binghams plant on eight-foot rows in order to get more plants per acre. It helps to create a better microclimate – interplant competition helps promote lower vigor and helps keep the plants from getting too growthy.

Awards & Recognition

Cliff Bingham – Past president (for 11 years) of Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, currently still on the board. Past president of the Terry County Soil and Water Conservation District and served on the board for eight years. Served as a board member of Organic Exchange, an international organization whose purpose is the promotion of organic cotton. A past president of Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, and a current member of the board and the legislative committee. Board member of PCCA and currently on the finance committee. He is also a member of the Meadow Co-op Gin board.