The Binghams

We are just a very ordinary family that has 11 children, homeschools, plays music, loves life, wants to take care of God’s earth, and loves 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

Here is another picture that includes a few more…

This picture was taken by a friendly Aussie at the wedding of my niece. I am not sure who took it, but we love it so thank you if you were the one who took the picture! It seems that I am usually the one “taking” the picture and not really “in” the picture.

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. Cliff also now cares for grapes in his vineyard. 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. They both see caring for a farm and vineyard of this magnitude as an intense joint venture requiring not only both of them, but some or most of their 11 children and several full-time and part-time employees. She is a past board member of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and is a current board member of the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock.

The Binghams planted their first grapes in December of 2003 on five acres. They own or manage a total of 240 acres now 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.

The Bingham’s oldest daughter, Jessica, along with her husband, Tyler Oswald, also work managing one of vineyards. Tyler and Jessica have three children, Olivia and Jason, and Piper. They are currently putting in a vineyard of their own.

The Bingham’s second oldest son, Kyle, is vineyard manager. Kyle oversees our grape harvesting operation and is married to Gracie.

Clint, Tyler, and Kyle have all helped some of the other new and existing growers put in more acres of grapes by doing custom work such as putting in drip irrigation systems, planting grape plants, and putting in t-posts for trellises.

Marissa, the Bingham’s fourth oldest child, is current taking classes at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She is playing cello in the University Symphony Orchestra and studying music. She is also taking enology classes at Tech. She plans to continue helping with the vineyards, teaching music, and continuing her own music training.

Blake Bingham is working for Bingham Family Vineyards and Farm in all areas, but he is especially working with the irrigation systems which is a quite important task considering the dryness of the last few years.

Daniel Bingham is going to Texas Tech University and studying viticulture and enology. He spends his spring breaks and any other free days working on the farm. He is also playing his viola in the Tech Symphony Orchestra, but plays his harmonica when the family kicks out the fiddle music.

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

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

Married for 32 years, the Binghams have 11 children and four grandchildren. Cliff’s number one hobby is playing the piano, Betty enjoys singing, and their children share their musical talents.  They attend Providence Presbyterian Church in Lubbock, Texas.

Grapes and Vineyards

The Binghams currently own or manage 240 acres of grapes in production.

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 will be provided to: Becker Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Hilmy Winery, Lost Oak Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Spicewood,  Texoma Winery, McPherson Cellars, Bar Z Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard, Pedernales Cellars, Texas Hills Vineyard, San Martino Winery and Vineyard, Cap*Rock Winery, Brushy Creek Vineyards, Landon Winery, Grape Creek, Paris Vineyards, Calais Winery, Tara Vineyard and Winery, Perissos Vineyards and Winery, Woodrose Winery, Pelota Wines, Hye Meadow, Valley Mills, Red Caboose, and Flat Creek. With more wineries to come.

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 in West Texas are hail and winter damage.

Equipment

The Binghams have been growing crops organically for 16 years. 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 2008 they also purchased a state-of-the-art mechanical harvester, Braud VX680, to harvest timely for the wineries. In addition they have purchased an Oxbo mechanical pruner to allow delayed pruning to delay and minimize hand pruning.

Special Growing Conditions

Bingham plants 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. Past president of Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association (TWGGA.)