The Binghams

We are just a very ordinary family that has 11 children, homeschools, plays music, loves art, 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. Read about our next addition to the family here at Pheasant Ridge Winery web site.

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, 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. Cliff  now farms and works also with his sons Clint (and his wife Alexis), Blake, Daniel, and Nathan; and daughters Marissa, Savannah, Emilee, and Brianna.

The Bingham family also works with Bobby Cox our “wine grower” who with his wife, Jennifer, have been involved with the Texas wine industry since the 1980’s.

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 total of 300 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 preparing for the birth of their first child.

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

The Bingham’s second oldest son, Kyle, works as vineyard manager for one of our neighbors. Kyle is married to Gracie who is a nurse in the intensive care burn unit of a local hospital.

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, teaching cello lessons, and continuing her own music training.

Blake is working for with us in the vineyards and on the farm as irrigation manager at Bingham Family Vineyards which is quite an important task considering the lack of rain the last few years in our area. But even now as we have had rains this year, we want to accomplish the optimal balance between rain and irrigation levels.

Daniel 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 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’s  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 300 acres of grapes in development or 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. See this page for links to these wineries.

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 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, current member of the board and on the legislative committee. Board member of PCCA and current on the finance committee. Also a member of the Meadow Co-op Gin board.