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Bending Branch Winery


Dr. Bob Young
November 22, 2023 | Dr. Bob Young

Thanksgiving message from Dr. Bob Young

Holiday greetings from Bending Branch! We have so much to be thankful for. It has been a busy summer and fall, and we're anticipating the delights that the holiday season brings. I would like to share with you some recent Bending Branch activities.


Bending Branch's first fruit was harvested on July 10, and its last grapes for the season arrived on October 17, making the 2023 vintage our largest harvest to date. More than 570 tons of grapes were processed by our top-notch team.

Sponsored events in San Antonio

Bending Branch was the official wine sponsor of the San Antonio International Team Tennis Competition held at the Freeman Coliseum November 10-12. These championships benefit children from Compton to Kyiv and throughout the State of Texas through the Bush ACE Outreach Program, SA Sports I-Play and the charitable work of the participating athletes including the Bryan Brothers Foundation and the John Isner Foundation. We enjoyed watching Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Cljisters, Gael Monfils, JJ Wolf, and Bob & Mike Bryan, to name a few. Bending Branch wines were featured at concession stands and at the Bending Branch Baseline VIP Lounge.

The Bush ACE Outreach Program sponsored tennis rackets for Boys and Girls Club of Comfort students participating in a week-long tennis clinic held at the Bending Branch tennis court this summer.

We were also pleased to sponsor Culinaria's Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival event held October 27-29. Bending Branch showcased wines and bourbons, including the 3-barrel bourbon blend selected by the Culinaria team. Additionally, as part of the Grand Tasting event, I held a seminar called, "Pushing, Pioneering, Taking Chances." The beneficiary of the festival proceeds is the James Beard Foundation with $250,000 committed to support culinary students in Texas. 

Bending Branch was able to host a limited number of club members at the San Antonio International Team Tennis Competition events and at Culinaria's Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival. Thanks to the members who joined us.

14-Year-Old Bourbon Release

On October 27th, we released the highly-anticipated Bending Branch 1840 14-year-old Barrel Proof Bourbon Whiskey at at an exclusive event held at our home. Our daughter, Master Blender Alison Young, and I selected a barrel that she named “The Traveler” because of its unique history. It was distilled and aged 7 years in Indiana, and then aged 7 more years in Napa Valley. It further aged several months in Kentucky and landed in Texas for its final aging and bottling.

Chosen for its depth of character, this bourbon has been referred to as a unicorn in the world of whiskey by one of Kentucky bourbon’s most expert figures. The beautiful packaging includes a leather label crafted in Argentina. There are less than 100 bottles of this rare High Rye bourbon. It is only available for purchase at the Bending Branch Estate tasting room. The Traveler is barrel strength at 143 proof and retails for $525 per bottle.

Holiday wishes

My wife Brenda and I, along with the entire Bending Branch Team, are grateful for the support and friendship of club members. We are thankful for all of you. May you enjoy a holiday season filled with good friends, dear family, and incredible wines and bourbons.

–Bob Young, M.D., MPH
CEO and Executive Winemaker

Time Posted: Nov 22, 2023 at 8:15 AM Permalink to Thanksgiving message from Dr. Bob Young Permalink
Jennifer Cernosek
September 11, 2023 | Jennifer Cernosek

2023 Harvest Highlights


As of September 8, and we have received approximately 280 tons of grapes and are about halfway through harvest. Here are some highlights of the 2023 season so far.

Texas Charbono

The first harvest of Charbono in Texas was from Tallent Vineyards on August 25, yielding 3.21 tons. Charbono that is grown in the United States has the same DNA as Bonarda that is grown in Argentina. Bonarda and Charbono are the same as the orginal Corbeau grape variety from the Savoie region in the French Alps. Bonarda is the second most planted grape variety in Argentina next to Malbec.

Charbono was also widely planted in California until the Judgment of Paris in 1976, and the success of Cabernet Sauvignon. Many Charbono vineyards were uprooted to follow the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon, but you can still find some wineries in Calistoga and surrounding areas making fantastic Charbono wines.

Bending Branch has been producing a Charbono from the Sierra Foothills that is made at Ursa Vineyards in California then transferred in barrels for additional aging and bottling in Texas. The Charbono wines have been a longtime favorite of club members, and we’ve been eager to make this wine in Texas. Both Charbono and Bonarda were planted on the original Bending Branch Estate Vineyard, in 2014 and 2011, respectively. The 2011 planting of Bonarda did not survive because of the hottest and driest summer in Texas in a century. Pierce’s Disease took the Charbono vines before there was a viable crop, so more vines were purchased, and an arrangement was made with Drew Tallent of Tallent Vineyards to plant them in Mason, at his premier vineyard.

Secret wine projects

Three secret wine projects are in progress. In the throes of Bending Branch’s largest harvest, Dr. Bob had two pioneering ideas (along with a spin-off) that he wanted to explore, all of which are showing promising starts and will have fun stories to accompany them. More to come later, when the time is right.

Traditional sparkling wines

With Winemaker Chris Missick spearheading the white and rosé wine programs, his expertise in sparkling wine production using traditional methods is at good work at Bending Branch with two sparkling projects. Within the first week of joining the team, one ton of Picpoul Blanc from Camledge Vineyard was harvested for a small-lot sparkling wine. The Crimson Cabernet from the Bending Branch Estate Vineyard was also harvested early for a rosé, like last year, but this time with the intention to sparkle.

Multi-generational farming, fantastic people

We work with many vineyards that are multi-generational family operations. When the grapes are harvested, the sense of family is on display when you see parents and children working together. It’s also special when the grandparents and great-grandparents are part of it, too. Each harvest with families and friends participating is a highlight.

This has been an outstanding harvest season so far, and we are thankful for all of the growers and harvest volunteers for their dedication.

The Bending Branch winemaking team has been doing an incredible job, and team members in every area of Bending Branch's business have been contributing to harvest and production. It takes a lot of great people working together to make exceptional wine. Cheers to the successes during the first half of harvest!

Time Posted: Sep 11, 2023 at 12:39 PM Permalink to 2023 Harvest Highlights Permalink
Jennifer Cernosek
July 19, 2023 | Jennifer Cernosek

PRESS RELEASE: Bending Branch Winery Expects Largest Harvest on Record

Pictured left to right: Chad Kurtz, Dr. Bob Young, Greg Stokes

COMFORT, TX (July 17) – This season, Bending Branch Winery will have its largest harvest to date, bringing in more than 30 grape varieties from over 30 vineyards for Bending Branch and custom crush clients. While one of Bending Branch’s important vineyard partners in the Texas High Plains saw devastating hail a couple of months ago, overall, the harvest yields are up across the state.

Bending Branch received its first fruit – Blanc du Bois – on July 8. Bending Branch Vineyard Manager Melvin Mendez hand harvested the Blanc du Bois to be crafted as a Floc de Gascogne-style sweet aperitif wine. More Texas Hill Country fruit is being harvested this week; the tentative harvest dates for the Estate vineyards range from the end of July to the first week of August. This season, Bending Branch will also receive the first-ever Charbono harvested in Texas.

Premier Winemaking Team

Bending Branch boasts the talents of four winemakers this harvest: CEO and Executive Winemaker Dr. Bob Young, Winemaker Greg Stokes, Assistant Winemaker Chad Kurtz, and Consulting Winemaker Christopher Missick.

Known as a pioneer in the Texas wine industry for his work with unique grape varieties and innovative winemaking techniques, Dr. Bob Young will work his 14th harvest season with Bending Branch. A grape extraction expert, he closely plans when to utilize natural tools like Cryo-Maceration (freezing the grapes to extract approximately 50% more color, tannin, and flavor) and Flash Détente (rapid heating then cooling to extract approximately 100% more color, tannin, and flavor). He routinely experiments in the vineyard and cellar, experimenting with types of wines that are new to Texas such as Tannat, Souzão, Picpoul Blanc, Crimson Cabernet, and Camminare Noir. Dr. Bob holds a Winemaking Certificate from University of California, Davis. Now CEO and Executive Winemaker at Bending Branch, Dr. Bob charted a distinguished career encompassing family practice in underserved rural communities, serving in public health administration as chief executive of two state health departments, and pioneering a new specialty in inpatient medicine called Hospitalists. 

Dr. Bob and Brenda Young hired Greg Stokes as a consultant for Bending Branch in 2007. Greg and his wife Deborah, Winemakers at Ursa Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills, were the first to make Tannat in California. In addition to being a highly regarded viticulturist and vineyard consultant, Greg is an extremely talented winemaker. When Bending Branch was founded in 2009, its first wines were made by Dr. Bob and Greg at Ursa Vineyards. The Young family purchased the Ursa brand in 2014, making Greg a permanent part of the team. This year is Greg’s 39th crush and he has been immersed in harvest in two states per year for over a decade. For five years, he crushed in both Arizona and California, and this is his eighth year crushing in Texas and California. Greg will be in Texas often for the Bending Branch harvest, and he returns to California in September for Ursa’s harvest season.

Chad Kurtz starts this crush with 11 prior Texas seasons under his belt. Chad runs the day-to-day cellar operations, managing nearly 500 tons of fruit expected this harvest season for both Bending Branch and its clients. He is an expert in the nuances of working with Texas fruit, as he has extensive experience implementing and refining extraction protocols.

Pictured: Chris Missick

Chris Missick joins the team this harvest as Consulting Winemaker where he will spearhead the white and rosé wine programs. Chris and his family have just recently moved to Boerne after many successful years as Winemaker at Missick Cellars, formerly Villa Bellangelo, in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Chris is known for producing incredible white wines and has pushed the envelope with traditional method sparkling wine production. He is looking forward to making wine in Texas and to starting this season with the Bending Branch team on July 19.


Sara Potter, Executive Marketing Coordinator                 



Time Posted: Jul 19, 2023 at 11:18 AM Permalink to PRESS RELEASE: Bending Branch Winery Expects Largest Harvest on Record Permalink
Sara Potter
July 13, 2023 | Sara Potter

Estate Crimson Cabernet Rosé Release

We are thrilled to release our 2022 Estate Crimson Cabernet Rosé from the Bending Branch Estate Vineyard. Only 13 cases are available for sale, so get your hands on this wine while you can! PURCHASE NOW

The Bending Branch Estate Crimson Cabernet vineyard was planted in 2019. Crimson Cabernet is a genetic cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton. Along with being Pierce’s Disease tolerant, this grape variety is also cold hardy because of the Norton component. Norton is thought by many to be the best non-Vitis Vinifera American red grape variety.

While we intend to craft red wine from this vineyard, we elected to make a rosé from the first harvest, which took place on August 20, 2022. The wine is a knockout with aromas of magnolia and pineapple that open up to flavors of strawberry, mango, and tropical fruit. The limited bottling of 22 cases was first available to customers who adopted vines in the vineyard (vine parents), but it is now available to everyone while supplies last.

We are expecting a larger Crimson Cabernet harvest this year and are still determining if the grapes are destined to make another rosé or a bold red wine. See our recent blog post for an update on the Crimson Cabernet and Camminare Noir vines in the Bending Branch Estate Vineyard. READ VINEYARD UPDATE

Time Posted: Jul 13, 2023 at 11:42 AM Permalink to Estate Crimson Cabernet Rosé Release Permalink
Sara Potter
June 13, 2023 | Sara Potter

ANNOUNCEMENT: We can now ship bourbon!

We are thrilled to announce that we can now ship bourbon to 41 states and Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, we cannot ship to Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.

A flat rate shipping fee of $20 applies no matter how many bottles are purchased.

Please note: Bourbon is sold on a different platform and is not able to be combined with wine orders.

--> Click here to shop bourbon <--

ChickenDuck High Rye Bourbon
92 Proof | $42 bottle
Gold – 2023 Ascot Awards

ChickenDuck Wheated Bourbon
92 Proof | $42 bottle
Gold – 2023 Ascot Awards

Bending Branch 1840
Kentucky Straight High Rye Bourbon

108 Proof | $75 bottle
Platinum – 2023 Ascot Awards

Bending Branch 1840
Kentucky Straight 4-Grain Bourbon

Barrel Strength at 109 Proof | $120 bottle
Platinum – 2023 Ascot Awards

A tasting flight of all four bourbons is available for $18 at the Bending Branch Estate tasting room. Open noon to 6 p.m. daily

Bourbon bottles are available for purchase Monday through Saturday at the tasting room. (By law, we cannot sell bourbon bottles on Sunday.)

Bourbon cocktails are now served out of the bourbon wagon at Bending Branch every Saturday and Sunday!

Explore our bourbon brands:



Time Posted: Jun 13, 2023 at 11:56 AM Permalink to ANNOUNCEMENT: We can now ship bourbon! Permalink
Jennifer Cernosek
June 7, 2023 | Jennifer Cernosek

Bending Branch Estate Vineyard Update

Crimson Cabernet

The Bending Branch Estate Crimson Cabernet vineyard was planted in 2019. Crimson Cabernet is a genetic cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton. Along with being Pierce’s Disease tolerant, this grape variety is also cold hardy because of the Norton component. Norton is thought by many to be the best non-Vitis Vinifera American red grape variety.

While we intend to craft red wine from this vineyard, we elected to make a rosé from the first harvest, which took place on August 20, 2022. The wine was recently bottled, and it is a knockout. The limited bottling will first be available to customers who adopted vines in the vineyard (vine parents).

Today, the vineyard team led by Melvin Mendez, has been working on thinning and opening the canopy. With the recent consistent rain showers, it’s important to optimize the air circulation around the leaves and grape clusters. This also allows the organic compounds that are sprayed in the vineyard to be more effective. Right now we’re being proactive about preventing fungus and black rot.

Also, the chickens are active in the vineyard taking care of pests. In a few weeks, netting will go over the vines to attempt to detract birds and raccoons from eating all of the fruit.

Camminare Noir

Meanwhile, our new block of Camminare Noir vines are blossoming in their grow tubes. The vines had been on order for roughly five years before they finally arrived. We planted 800 of the 1200 vines that were expected. Now the remaining 400 should arrive next year.

Of the grape varieties available that have proven to be resistant to Pierce’s Disease, this one was selected because it has characteristics of two of Executive Winemaker Dr. Bob Young’s favorite grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. It is 94% Vitis Vinifera and is a Walker clone.

Whitehall Lane in Napa is known for producing outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and their bottling of 2019 Camminare Noir is luscious. Tasting this wine further enforced the decision to plant Camminare Noir at Bending Branch Estate Vineyard.

June 23 Crimson Cabernet Update:

Veraison is taking place in the Estate Crimson Cabernet vineyard. Veraison is the onset of grape ripening -- when the grapes begin to turn from green to red/purple. We generally expect that harvest will take place about six weeks from the start of veraison.

This morning, bird netting was installed. As the grapes change color and sweeten, the birds become very interested in them. In the original vineyard at Bending Branch, the first grape variety to begin veraison in 2011 was Tempranillo. The word tempranillo translates to “little early one,” which references its early ripening. From the start of veraison to the next day, the entire lot of grapes disappeared thanks to the birds. So it is no surprise that the vineyard team was quick to net the Crimson Cabernet vines today.

Another factor the Crimson Cabernet vines have been facing is extreme heat. There is a reduction in vine photosynthesis, and the sugar accumulation slows during ripening when the heat is excessive. In fact, over 100 degrees, photosynthesis in the vines shuts down. These factors can create challenges in phenolic ripeness development.

Last year, vine parents and staff harvested Crimson Cabernet for a knockout rosé. Only 22 cases were produced. We are expecting a larger harvest this year and are still determining if the grapes are destined to make another rosé or a bold red wine. Vine parents and friends: Be on the lookout for this year’s harvest information around the start of August.

Time Posted: Jun 7, 2023 at 3:25 PM Permalink to Bending Branch Estate Vineyard Update Permalink
Jennifer Cernosek
April 7, 2023 | Jennifer Cernosek

Texas-crafted wines and bourbons showcased in Tokyo

Last month, as part of initiatives with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA), Bending Branch wines and bourbons were presented at FOODEX JAPAN. For wines, we featured Texas Tempranillo, Texas Cabernet Sauvignon, and Texas Tannat. For bourbons, we showed Bending Branch 1840 High Rye and ChickenDuck High Rye.

Top Tokyo Takeaways:

Very quickly, I learned the term “Oishii.” I kept hearing it over and over again after Japanese tasters tried the Bending Branch wines and bourbons. It generally means, “Very good.”

Highball, please.
Bending Branch Master Blender Alison Young has long been a fan of Highballs, sparkling water mixed with bourbon. This is one of the most common cocktails at restaurants and bars in Japan. ChickenDuck High Rye or Wheated Bourbon is perfect for a Highball because of the big flavor profiles.

Texas Tannat with American Beef. Texas Cabernet Sauvignon with Japanese Wagyu Beef.
Several Japanese chefs tasted the three wines that we presented. For pairing suggestions, multiple chefs talked about pairing Texas Tannat with American beef and Texas Cabernet Sauvignon with Japanese Wagyu beef. These work for me!

Texas wine truly is a novelty.
“Have you ever tried Texas wine?” was the question that I asked hundreds of tasters, and about 99% of the time, the answer was “No.” The follow-up question from the tasters was, “Wine is produced in Texas?!” 

So aside from the surprise that wine is being produced in Texas was the surprise that Texas wine is good!

Other Texas producers participating in FOODEX JAPAN and the TDA Outbound Trade Mission included Island Getaway Rum, Pecan Grove Farms, Veldhuizen Cheese, and William Chris Wine Co. Special thanks to TDA and TDA Program Director Nikki Jackson, and SUSTA for their work organizing and supporting Texas businesses. 






Time Posted: Apr 7, 2023 at 8:11 AM Permalink to Texas-crafted wines and bourbons showcased in Tokyo Permalink
Jennifer Cernosek
March 15, 2023 | Jennifer Cernosek

To Foil or Not to Foil

We’re often assessing all elements of our business, and wine packaging is part of the assessment. Many club members and customers have noticed that some newly released wines no longer have foil capsules.

This is an increasing trend in the industry, as the original purpose of protecting the cork from undesirable conditions is no longer as relevant in today’s conditions. In fact, the foil now serves primarily an ornamental function. Our decision to only use capsules in rare instances moving forward is another step in sustainable winery practices. The elimination of foils means less waste in landfills, better use of personnel time, and superior wine value.

Another benefit of eliminating the capsule is that there is one less step to a great pour of quality wine landing in your glass. Farewell to foils, and cheers to you for supporting sustainable endeavors!

Time Posted: Mar 15, 2023 at 12:44 PM Permalink to To Foil or Not to Foil Permalink
Sara Potter
February 24, 2023 | Sara Potter

Bending Branch builds on Kentucky heritage, launches bourbon brands

COMFORT, TX (Feb. 24) – Out of their mutual shared interest in quality bourbon, Bending Branch Winery CEO Dr. Bob Young and President Alison Young brought some of their Kentucky Bourbon Country heritage to Comfort. Today, Bending Branch announces the launch of two new bourbon brands, Bending Branch 1840 and ChickenDuck.

“After successfully growing the Bending Branch reputation for quality, exceptional wines and experiences, we are excited to expand the Young family of beverage brands with the launch of outstanding bourbons from Kentucky,” said Alison Young, president and Master Blender of Bending Branch.

The Bending Branch 1840 brand features premium Kentucky straight bourbon and high rye bourbon whiskeys, aged for a minimum of four years in new American charred oak barrels, that Alison and Dr. Bob have sourced over the last two years for additional aging and bottling in Texas. 1840 pays homage to the year the Bending Branch Winery property was settled and to the original log cabin home on the property.

The first two 1840 Bourbons offered from Bending Branch are a premium high rye bourbon and a signature four-grain mash bill bourbon. The high rye bourbon offers aromas of vanilla, orangesicle and crème brûlée and opens to caramel and orange cordial on the palate. At 108 proof, this bourbon is exceptionally smooth. It retails for $75 and is available at Bending Branch and will soon be in Texas retail stores. The four-grain bourbon features a unique mash bill created by Dr. Bob. It is a small batch blend of three barrels, bottled at barrel strength of 109 proof. Only available at Bending Branch, this bourbon tastes of decadent vanilla buttercream. At $95, the less than 600 bottles that are available for sale have already begun to fly from the shelves.

ChickenDuck is serious bourbon that is purposefully crafted differently. It is named after two of the original chickens and ducks that  roamed the vineyard managing pests and entertaining guests. Continuing Bending Branch Winery’s expertise in innovative techniques, the ChickenDuck bourbons use an advanced extraction technology that give them the qualities of bourbons that are aged for multiple years. 100% of the aging of these bourbons takes place on the property in Comfort.

The environmental impact of ChickenDuck is less than traditional bourbon whiskeys because of the extraction technology, reduction in barrel storage time and associated costs, and its almost complete reduction in evaporation loss (“Angel’s Share”) compared to bourbons aged a minimum of four years.

The first ChickenDuck bourbon releases are a high rye bourbon and a wheated bourbon. The high rye has aromas of brown sugar, baking spices and molasses and opens to sassafras and cracked pepper on the finish. The wheated bourbon entices with cedar chest and vanilla on the nose, and it follows through with caramelized sugar and buttery toffee notes. Both ChickenDuck bourbons retail for $42 and are available at Bending Branch. They will be offered in Texas retail stores soon.

Flights of four tastings are available daily at the Bending Branch tasting room. On April 1, Bending Branch is featuring a Bourbon and Bites Sensory Experience. Tickets are available at https://bit.ly/bourbonbites.

As part of the expansion into bourbon, the company is now referred to as Bending Branch, with its four brands: Bending Branch Winery, Ursa Vineyards, Bending Branch 1840 and ChickenDuck.




Time Posted: Feb 24, 2023 at 9:53 AM Permalink to Bending Branch builds on Kentucky heritage, launches bourbon brands Permalink
Sara Potter
February 1, 2023 | Sara Potter

2023 YourSA Readers’ Choice Awards

Bending Branch Winery has been nominated again for Best Winery in the 2023 YourSA San Antonio Express-News Readers’ Choice Awards. We are honored to have been voted Best Winery in this competition for the last 7 years.

We can’t do this without YOU!
Please take a moment to vote for Bending Branch.

--> VOTE HERE <--

You may vote once per day through February 15th.

Thanks to our members and loyal fans, Bending Branch has been voted Best Winery for the last seven competitions: 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 & 2015. (There was no competition in 2020.)

Let's rock the vote and make it eight years in a row!

#YourSA23 #SupportLocal #SanAntonio #OpenLocalWine

Time Posted: Feb 1, 2023 at 1:36 PM Permalink to 2023 YourSA Readers’ Choice Awards Permalink