Through the Grapevine: Harvest Season in the Texas Hill Country

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Bending Branch Winery with harvesting equipment
©John Davidson

Surrounding San Antonio’s city limits is the scenic Hill Country, a region known for its rolling landscapes and, as of late, sprawling vineyards and boutique wineries. Outside of Napa, the “Texas Wine Trail” is one of the most-visited destinations in the U.S. for wine enthusiasts.

 

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Bending Branch Winery grapes in the harvesting equipment
©John Davidson

“Texas consumers really support Texas wines,” said Greg Stokes, a consultant and co-winemaker at family-owned Bending Branch Winery who’s watched the Texas wine industry steadily progress since 2009. 

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 Bending Branch Winery owner posed for a photograph
©John Davidson

Bending Branch Winery owner Robert "Dr. Bob" Young is up just as early as the field hands during harvest season—a testament to the quality of the boutique label's award-winning wines. 

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Bending Branch Winery worker harvesting grapes
©John Davidson

Here, in the trenches of the vineyard, the winemaking process begins virtually the same way it does anywhere else; Bending Branch Winery’s first harvest of the season starts at its six-acre lot of Roussanne, a white wine grape, at Hoover Valley Vineyards in Burnet.

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Bending Branch Winery grapes on the vine
©John Davidson

"Somm" like it hot: Unlike the finicky Chardonnay grape, Roussanne—and varietals like Tempranillo or Tannat—has the potential to thrive in Texas’ harsher and often unpredictable climate. 

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Bending Branch Winery equipment that presses grapes for wine
©John Davidson

After sorting and pressing about six tons of grapes, Stokes says Bending Branch can expect an average yield of nearly 400 12-bottle cases.

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Bending Branch Winery warehouse with vats of wine
©John Davidson

Back at the winery, the Roussanne grapes will be cold-settled and eventually aged until they’re ready to bottle and imbibe.

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Bending Branch Winery tasting
©John Davidson

After a tour of the estate, visit Bending Branch’s rustic tasting room for a glass (or bottle) of its award-winning wines.

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Bending Branch Winery bottles on display
©John Davidson

Visitors to the winery can take in the view from the Bending Branch patio with a glass in hand, of course. 

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Bending Branch Winery red wine being poured into a glass
©John Davidson

Guests are encouraged to try a few of Bending Branch's other unique and award-winning varietals at its second tasting room, located in the Hill Country town of Comfort's charming downtown. 

By Jaimie Siegle on 10/26/2016

As harvest season approaches once again in the scenic Texas Hill Country, regional vineyards and wineries are, quite literally, growing Texas' fine wine movement from the ground up. From the grapevine to the Bending Branch Winery tasting room, Austin-based photographer John Davidson captured the process for WhereTraveler.