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Archive | July 30th, 2014

Bending Branch Winery Brings Home the Gold

Bending Branch Winery Brings Home the Gold

COMFORT – Bending Branch Winery is rolling in gold.

bending branchThe Hill Country winery recently won three Best-of-Appellation Double Gold Medals and one Gold Medal for four Texas wines from Appellation America, an online source of information on North American wines and wineries. Its Best-of-Appellation program recognizes the distinctive character and “sense of place” of wines produced in different regions and appellations.

“Being recognized for Best of Appellation (BOA) wines for four different varietals grown in Texas is a milestone for Bending Branch Winery,” said Robert Young, a founder of Bending Branch and co-winemaker with John Rivenburgh. “We are particularly thrilled that our Estate Tannat and Picpoul Blanc achieved BOA recognition.

Bending Branch won a total of four Best-of-Appellation Double Gold Medals, signifying exceptional expression of regional character/quality, including the following three Texas wines:

  • 2012 Picpoul Blanc, Estate (Texas Hill Country) – bright acidity dances on your palate with tastes of tropical fruits and sweet citrus layered with hints of honey and cream.
  • 2011 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards (Texas High Plains) – often referred to as the noble grape of Spain, Tempranillo has earned its accolades as one of the preeminent red varieties of Texas. It has classic notes of espresso grounds, sweet pipe tobacco, with rich bing cherry and raspberry notes.
  • 2011 Tannat, Estate (Texas Hill Country) – Tannat, a Southern French native, is a signature grape for Bending Branch, offering black cherry and raspberry flavors and hints of white pepper and Indian spice.

bendingbranchwinery_tannatBending Branch also was awarded a BOA Double Gold for its NV Souzao, Silvaspoons Vineyard, AVA Alta Meza, in Lodi, California.

Its 2011 Mourvedre, Reddy Vineyards (Texas High Plains), won a Best-of-Appellation Gold Medal. The Mourvedre has a nose of violets and rich dark berry fruits, and raspberry and rhubarb flavors complimented by star anise, vanilla and chai spices.

“Every Texas winery acknowledges that Bob Young and John Rivenburgh are leading the charge in the growing excellence of Texas wines,” said Clark Smith, author of “Postmodern Winemaking.” “Rather than sheepishly following the received wisdom from California, they apply thorough study to the suitability of novel varieties and new technologies, and then follow up with courageous investments of both capital and attention to detail.  Realizing that the perceived quality of all local wines is critical to their success, their experiments are geared to benefit the whole industry throughout Texas.  Appellation America.com has rated its Estate Tannat and Picpoul Blanc and the Texas High Plains Tempranillo among the best wines produced in America.”

Bending Branch Winery, a boutique winery near Comfort in the Texas Hill Country AVA, is a sustainable practices and organically focused operation with 20 acres of vines comprising 16 grape varieties, including its signature varieties, Tannat and Picpoul Blanc. It produces wines from both Texas and California appellations.

For more information about Bending Branch Winery, visit the website at www.bendingbranchwinery.com.

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Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Becker vineyards harvester cropped 2014

STONEWALL:  The rumbling of diesel engines is heard in an otherwise quiet, pastoral setting of vines and ripe bunches of grapes.  A blue Braud harvester rolls down a row of grapevines, shaking green grapes off as it goes along.  Yellow picking bins on a flatbed trailer pulled by a John Deere tractor are being filled with the ripe fruit and brought to the winery for processing.

Becker grape harvester 2014 croppedThe 2014 harvest has begun for Becker Vineyards.

This week, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were being harvested in the vineyard in front of the winery.

This past Saturday, grape growers Cap and Diane Holland harvested their Chardonnay grapes from their vineyard located between Bronte and Miles, outside of San Angelo, making them the first of Becker Vineyards contract growers to harvest grapes.

“This will be our 18th grape harvest, “ said Bunny Becker, co-proprietor with her husband Dr. Richard Becker. “Harvest is an exciting time of the year for us.”

The Beckers planted their vineyard in 1992 with the first harvest taking place in 1995.  They began selling wine to the public when they opened their winery tasting room in May of 1996.  Along with the vineyard at Stonewall, they own another vineyard at Ballinger and a third one in Mason. Becker Vineyards also purchases fruit from grape growers.

“We have the largest amount of contracts on Texas-grown grapes in the state,” said Bret Perrenoud, general manager, dumping a bin of grapes into the destemmer-crusher with a forklift.

The winery crush pad is a bee hive of activity. The destemmer-crusher is… destemming and crushing. The white grape varietals are then going – via hoses and pumps – to the press to separate the juice from the skins. The air is aromatic with the scent of fresh, ripe fruit. The juice will then head for a stainless steel tank to be inoculated with yeast.  If it is to be a dry white, the fermenting juice will then go to White Oak barrels and finish fermentation there.  If it is to be off-dry (sweeter-style wines), it will stay in stainless steel.

Winemaker Jonathan Leahy is looking forward to the harvest and said, “It’s been a cooler than normal summer. We have phenolic ripeness without the spiking of sugars. This will make full bodied, well developed and more complex wines.”

“We are all looking forward to the end results,” said Richard Becker, with a smile.

Becker Vineyards is located 11 miles east of Fredericksburg, 3 miles west of Stonewall, off U.S. Hwy 290 at Jenschke Lane.

Photographs, article courtesy Nichole Bendele, Becker Vineyards

 

And, let the grape stomps begin!

Grape Stomp t-shirtAugust is the month for stomping grapes, one of the Texas Hill Country’s favorite, crowd-pleasing times.  Becker Vineyards’ Grape Stomp is Aug. 23-24 and Aug. 30-31.

Here are more fun places to get your feet into some ripe, fresh fruit. Check out the wineries’ websites for hours and directions.

  • August 2-3 & 9-10 at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
  • August 8-10, 15-17 & 22-24 at Pedernales Cellars
  • August 9 at Texas Legato
  • August 9-10 & 16-17 at William Chris Vineyards
  • August 16 at Westcave Cellars Winery
  • August 16-17 & 23-24 at Texas Hills Vineyard
  • August 16 & 23 at Fall Creek Vineyards
  • August 30 at Messina Hof Hill Country
  • August 30 & September 6 at Chisholm Trail Winery

 

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