Bending Branch Winery is located in the town of Comfort. The winery first planted a vineyard in 2008, opened the winery in 2010, and already is making big names in the quality of their red wines, particular the varietal Tannat. The winery is owned by Robert and Brenda Young, in addition to John Rivenburgh. Robert Young is the winemaker.
We visited the winery first at Christmas in 2010 and it has definitely gotten more popular since that time as it was very busy when we visited the last time. Granted it was during a wine trail weekend, but usually during the first weekend of a wine trail event people stay along Highway 290 and the town of Comfort is fairly quiet. However, this time it was almost the opposite.
With help we found a spot to sit at the end of the tasting bar, and Jennifer Beckmann, Director of Marketing, started us on a tasting. Bending Branch Winery uses corks and pours their tastings with a measured pourer. There is a tasting fee for normally six wines, but at the time of our visit there was more available which could be tasted. The tasting fee will be waived with the purchase of two or more bottles. Crackers are available to cleanse your palate. Behind the tasting bar is a beautiful wood cabinet which I wish I could fit in my house.
One white grape Bending Branch Winery is experimenting with is Picpoul Blanc which is an ancient Southern French varietal known as “lip stinger” for its bright acidity. Their 1840 Picpoul Blanc has won awards at the Lone Star Wine Competition and Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
Tannat is a native of the French Pyrenees foothills grown in Alta Mesa, and has established itself as the signature grape of Bending Branch Winery. Tannat is known for its intense tannic structure and rich fruits and the varietal offers layers of complexity. Bending Branch Winery in fact makes four different types of Tannat wines, one from their own vineyard and three from other vineyards.
A 2009 1840 RF (Regular Fermentation) Tannat comes from Silvaspoons Vineyards in Alta Mesa, California and another 2009 1840 RF comes from Bella Collina Vineyards in Pasa Robles, California. The 2009 1840 EM (Extended Maceration) Tannat comes from Bella Collina Vineyards and uses a technique where the seeds and skins of the must were left in contact with the wine for 30 days after fermentation producing softer, velvety tannins.
The Rivenburgh’s daughter and the Young’s granddaughter is Chloe and is the name of Bending Branch’s first blend, Chloe Cuveé. It has three different grapes and uses a glass cork. It is very good and has a bottle price of $75.
Bending Branch Winery uses about 50% Texas grapes right now and they are growing 14 acres in their vineyard with 14 different varieties located on the hill behind the winery. The winery and vineyard make up only part of the 56 acres of Bending Branch Winery. The other grapes they use come from California. Their Rosé is 75% Texas grapes from Reddy Vineyards and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre from two Texas High Plains vineyards. 800 cases of Texas wine were produced their first year and 2,000 cases were produced in 2011.
A gift shop is present which has clothing and wine accessories. Tours are available by appointment only and there is a fee for a basic or extended tour. There are two wine clubs at Bending Branch Winery, the Branch Club and the 1840 Club. These two clubs relate to the two types of labels the winery makes. The Bending Branch label wines are their value line and the 1840 are their premium wines.
Bending Branch Winery is on the Texas Hill Country wine trail and is definitely worth a trip to Comfort to experience the Bending Branch experience.