Bingham Family Vineyards recently announced in July 2021 that new winemaker Sam Jennings had joined their team. We are proud to present Sam for this month’s featured winemaker profile!
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I went to college and studied Sociology. After school I found myself working my first harvest in an enology lab in Washington state because the pay was better than any other work I could find in my field of study.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Well, I’m new out here so my experience is limited. So far, I have seen challenges with the weather cooperating with the growing season and low acidity levels.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
In my humble opinion, it is both. I know some fantastic winemakers that lean heavily on the scientific side and some fantastic winemakers that lean more on the artistic side. For me, a good scientific foundation allows more artistic freedom in my winemaking style. Balance is everything in winemaking, finding the balance of science and art makes the best wines.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I enjoy a simple ribeye seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper, cooked over lump charcoal on the grill paired with a nice Cab Franc or Tempranillo.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Youth counseling was my original career plan.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
When I started in the enology labs the combination of science and art fascinated me. After my first harvest working in the labs, I knew I had to get into the cellar and learn how to make wine. 2021 will be my 15th harvest.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
“Do you drink a lot of wine?”
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
I enjoy kicking my shoes off and firing up the grill or smoker and making a good meal.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
The ability to take a bunch of fresh grapes and craft something so complex and unique out of them.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My winemaking philosophy is to work with the fruit as naturally as possible. I am not a big fan of additives, I take a minimalist approach and blend old-world traditional winemaking styles with new-world science.
- Anything else you would like to add?
I am really excited to be out in here Texas. I really think Texas wineries have an opportunity to give California, Washington, and Oregon a run for their money crafting exceptional wines with Texas-grown fruit. It’s an exciting time to be joining the Texas wine industry!