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Something you don’t see everyday in wine country

by TrevR on March 25, 2007

As we were driving around the valley this weekend we came across something that made us pull over and stop–there was a herd of sheep grazing in the vineyards. Apparently this is an effective way to rid a vineyard of unwanted weeds that may be popping up between the vines after a wet winter. We’re also told that as the sheep graze and leave behind their droppings, it makes for an excellent source of maneur. Who knew?!

It’s somewhat difficult to make them out in the photo below, but trust us, it was a sight to be seen!

Animals in the vineyards

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, vineyards, sheep]

About the Author

has written 716 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter @TrevR.

  • http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com/ Dr. Debs

    Great story! More of this kind of thinking is in order. At The Sea Ranch we use sheep for fuel abatement to cut down on the fire risk without just mowing. Sheep and goats get moved from place to place all around the ranch, munching on all that food and keeping down the fire fuel. And the “fertilizer” helps the wildflowers the next spring.

  • http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com Dr. Debs

    Great story! More of this kind of thinking is in order. At The Sea Ranch we use sheep for fuel abatement to cut down on the fire risk without just mowing. Sheep and goats get moved from place to place all around the ranch, munching on all that food and keeping down the fire fuel. And the “fertilizer” helps the wildflowers the next spring.

  • http://www.wineconsultant.co.nz/ Paul Sharp

    If you think this is interesting how about grazing them in the vineyard after fruit set to do the leaf plucking! I’ve heard of this being tested recently in few southern hemisphere vineyards.

  • http://www.wineconsultant.co.nz Paul Sharp

    If you think this is interesting how about grazing them in the vineyard after fruit set to do the leaf plucking! I’ve heard of this being tested recently in few southern hemisphere vineyards.

  • http://www.uncork29.com/blog TrevR

    Paul–that IS amazing! Wonder how they keep the sheep from eating the fruit?

  • http://www.uncork29.com/blog TrevR

    Paul–that IS amazing! Wonder how they keep the sheep from eating the fruit?

  • http://www.wineconsultant.co.nz/ Paul Sharp

    Apparently it’s quite tricky to do. But the basic idea is that the grapes are still in the green phase before veraison. Thus the grapes are high in acid and quite unpalatable. The sheep would rather just nip off the leaves as far as they can reach. So the effectiveness depends on the height of the trellising wire. Systems such as Scott Henry, RT2T (either version), bush vines, traditional low Goyot, GDC, Sylvos etc need not apply. Probably most applicable to VSP or U-Trellis.

  • http://www.wineconsultant.co.nz Paul Sharp

    Apparently it’s quite tricky to do. But the basic idea is that the grapes are still in the green phase before veraison. Thus the grapes are high in acid and quite unpalatable. The sheep would rather just nip off the leaves as far as they can reach. So the effectiveness depends on the height of the trellising wire. Systems such as Scott Henry, RT2T (either version), bush vines, traditional low Goyot, GDC, Sylvos etc need not apply. Probably most applicable to VSP or U-Trellis.

  • http://www.canvasranch.com/ Deborah

    Paul — I manage a flock of 80 miniature sheep that I lease to vineyards for grazing. I’d be very interested in knowing where they are being used in the southern hemisphere vineyards you mentioned. Thanks.

  • http://www.canvasranch.com Deborah

    Paul — I manage a flock of 80 miniature sheep that I lease to vineyards for grazing. I’d be very interested in knowing where they are being used in the southern hemisphere vineyards you mentioned. Thanks.

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