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A Texas Winery Homecoming

Bingham Family Vineyards buys Pheasant Ridge, Texas’ fourth oldest winery, and hires founder Bobby Cox

Kasey Carpenter
Posted: February 18, 2014

Pheasant Ridge Winery, the historic West Texas estate that helped kick off a resurgence of the Lone Star State's wine industry in the 1970s, has been sold to Bingham Family Vineyards. The sale, for more than $650,000, includes 60 acres of vines, the winery and the tasting room. And in a twist of fate, the new owners have turned to the winery's founder, Bobby Cox, to oversee the vineyards and winemaking.

“It feels good to be home," Cox told Wine Spectator.

When Cox founded Pheasant Ridge Winery on the high plains of Lubbock in 1979, many thought him crazy. He planted more than 25 acres, confident that the area offered key elements to producing world-class wines, namely limestone soils, bright, sunny days and cool, breezy nights. In 1993, the region was recognized as the Texas High Plains AVA.

As for Cox, a Texas recession in the 1980s forced his hand. He sold Pheasant Ridge to William Gipson, a geologist who was then president of Pennzoil Offshore in Houston. Undaunted, Cox continued his work in viticulture in the High Plains. He became a consultant and worked with Cliff Bingham on many of his plantings, experimenting with Viognier, Vermentino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dolcetto, which are now in high demand by winemakers throughout the state. Today, Bingham Family Vineyards owns 245 acres of vines in the High Plains, most of which are sold to other Texas wineries.

Last November, Gipson, 90, decided it was time to sell Pheasant Ridge by way of an auction. Bingham won two lots: the winery and tasting room; and approximately 60 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, many of which are original plantings. (The other two lots, undeveloped land, were bought by an undisclosed bidder.) With the finalization of the sale in December, Bingham announced that Cox will be overseeing the vineyard and making the wines, with help from the Bingham Family team.

“The vines were really well taken care of,” said Cox. “So we don’t have to do a lot there. Manuel Lechuga has been overseeing these parcels for years. Now with the Binghams involved, we look forward to bringing Pheasant Ridge back to the same caliber of wine which helped put the High Plains on the map.”

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