by Robin English-Bircher, Wine and Travel Writer, Texas Wine and Trail June 02, 2014
Bending Branch winery is best known for unique varietals (like Tannat, Picpoul Blanc, and Souzao), award winning Texas wines, and the Kentucky Derby Party. As A long time visitor to the winery, I know there are two more things that are as important as great wine and lots of fun: tennis and charity. This June, those two are coming together at Bending Branch’s Wine and Tennis Double’s Pro Am.
A Dedication to Tennis and Charity
This isn’t Bending Branch’s first foray into charity, even charity and tennis. Two years ago, Bending Branch hosted a similar Pro-Am Tennis tournament to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Comfort. Last year, Bending Branch helped support the San Antonio Tennis Club with a charity mixer at the Alamo. These early events were only the beginning. This year’s goal to help is greater than ever.
First, the Double’s Pro Am tournament has returned. This will include two days of tennis on Saturday and Sunday. For the tournament, one pro player will join an amateur as a doubles pair. Next, the tournament’s proceeds will go to help a new charity: Team Fox: The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkison’s Research. In addition to the tournament and all the fundraising, there will be other activities. There will be demonstrations, food trucks, and live music during the day. Also, for those in need of a one-of-a-kind diner experience, there will be a charity fundraising dinner on Saturday night.
Anyone who has visited Bending Branch has seen the private tennis court near the tasting room. Mostly, banners displays some of the awards Bending Branch has earned over the years. And on June 7 & 8, this is where the tournament will take place. Beneath a covered tent, tennis fans will watch five professional players team-up with five amateurs in a doubles tournament. These pairs will first face off on Saturday from 1pm-5pm. On Sunday morning, the play wraps up with the final matches starting at 9am and likely continuing until 1pm (two years ago, they ended early on Sunday).
In addition to tournament play, Bending Branch will be host to other entertainments. The only cost for the afternoon events is for food, drinks, and wine. The company and the tennis is free. For more info on the events, below is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon:
10:30-12:30: Racquet Demo sponsored by Prince Tennis, as well as Raffle and Serve Speed Competition
11:00-5:00pm: Local Vendors will be on hand to sell their wares and local food truck, Pretty Thai for a White Guy, will be serving their unique cuisine!
1:00-5:00pm: The Pro-Am Tournament will be played on the Clay Court.
9am-1:00pm: The final play and conclusion of the Pro-Am Tournament will finish on the Clay Court.
12-5pm: Again, local Vendors will be on hand to sell their wares and local food truck will be serving their unique cuisine!
2-5pm: Live Music by the Lesti Huff Band will wrap-up the day.
For tennis fans, the most important part may be the professional talent. Each professional will be paired with one amateur during the tournament. Bending Branch has sought out five top players:
Johan Kriek: Former top ten ranked world single player and winner of two Australian Opens.
Graydon Oliver: Formerly ranked #12 Doubles Player in the world and 2000 NCAA Champion.
Chris Haggard: Former Top Ten in the world ATP Doubles.
Christo Van Rensburg: Ranked top 20 in the world in singles and reached #1 in doubles. He had singles wins over McEnroe, Becker and Sampras.
Matt Bain: Best Win over Benjamin Becker.
A major part of the charity fundraiser is the dinner. On Saturday night from 6pm-10, guests will experience an intimate meal at owners Bob and Brenda Young’s home on the winery grounds. The professional players and amateurs will also be in attendance. So after watching the great play, guests can get the chance to talk tennis – or wine.
Please note, that as of Friday, May 30, there were only about 20 seats available.
As this evening is more specifically about the charity, both a live and silent auctions will be held with all proceeds going to Team Fox. The four course meal includes cocktails from 6-7 and dinner from 7-10. The entire meal will be paired with Bending Branch wines. For more information, see their events page and see below for the menu:
Sea scallops on angel hair pasta nest with champagne brie sauce
Peppercorn seared beef tenderloin with red wine demi glaze
Italian faro with caramelized onions
Haricot vert with cherry tomato garnish
Assorted breads with whipped butter
Chocolate marquis cake with raspberry sauce
This wonderful evening with a view of the Texas Hill Country is only $100. To get tickets, go to the Bending Branch’s store.
This single weekend combines two things important to Bending Branch, tennis and charity. And of course charity is the most important part. When I spoke to Brenda Young in early May, she was very excited about everything, especially the charity. It is no wonder, as Team Fox is a respected charity.
Team Fox focuses on fighting Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s (or PD), affects motor function due to issues in the brain. The disease is chronic and has no cure. Though there is treatment, PD can cause any number of issues. Luckily, groups like Team Fox are working to change that. The funds raised by the charity aid primarily with PD research to help treatment and to find a cure. They are searching to find the best treatment for all people dealing with the disease. And as the site proudly states, 100% of 2014’s funds will go to helping fight PD.
Texas wine fans can help by attending the many events at the winery. Another way is to make a pledge to Team Fox. Bending Branch has their own group where visitors can donate to Team Fox. The first donor, of course, was Bob Young. So for those who cannot make it out, a great way to help is to donate at the Bending Branch page. Follow this LINK to join the team and help support Team Fox and Bending Branch’s fight against Parkinson’s disease.
Wine, Tennis, and Charity
Wine and Tennis come together on Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8 at Bending Branch Winery. The end goal is to help fund Parkinson’s research. Wine, tennis, and a good cause: is there anything better?