With a commitment to sustainable farming in our vineyards, we implement some alternative farming practices. Instead of using chemicals to control the cover crop under the vines, we employ these adorable little lawn mowers. Sheep are a common sight in Napa Valley recently as more producers seek cleaner substitutes to harsher methods of vineyard maintenance.
Instead of the loud whir and acrid aroma of gas-powered trimmers, or the hiss of sprayers laying down a blanket of chemicals, you hear the gentle mewing of a small flock of sheep. The wooly coats of these gentle munchers are a comforting image as they graze peacefully under the awakening vines. The beneficial insects that live in the cover crop are minimally disturbed. The hawks, falcons, and owls that patrol the vineyards for varmints are not disturbed by noise or chemicals. The delicate ecosystem remains peaceful and in balance.
It is a lovely scene when the shepherd shows up with their truck full of docile critters, along with the trusty dog who will keep the sheep in line and protect them from any curious predators. Sometimes the perimeter is lined with a low voltage wire to keep the herd from wandering and keep them focused on the task at hand. Eat!
It’s a pastoral scene that repeats itself throughout the vineyards. A low impact method for controlling the plants that requires almost no supervision. The shepherd can walk away, delivering other small groups of sheep to various vineyards while the others just munch away. The vineyard manager can focus on other pressing matters while the cuddly animals complete their task, left to their own devices.
Then the shepherd retraces his steps, collecting the animals in a leisurely manner to take them back home, ready for another day of feasting. No gas cans, no fumes, no soil compacting, nothing left behind with the exception of some organic fertilizer.
The animals are well-fed, the shepherd is well-compensated, and the vineyard manager and winery have the peace of mind that the task was accomplished with minimal impact on the vineyards and the environment. Besides, it is a lovely image for the visitors to enjoy and is an irresistible, charming photo opportunity. Everyone ends up happy.