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The Benefits of Bringing Sheep into the Vineyard: A Sustainable Approach at Christopher Cellars

Christopher Mora
February 16, 2024 | Winemaking | Christopher Mora

The Benefits of Bringing Sheep into the Vineyard: A Sustainable Approach at Christopher Cellars

At Christopher Cellars, sustainability isn't just a buzzword; it's a way of life. One of the innovative practices we've implemented is the introduction of sheep into the Bartholomew Family Vineyard located onsite the winery property. This may seem unconventional, but it offers a range of benefits that align perfectly with our commitment to the environment and the quality of our wines. Hal Bartholomew a 5th generation of Bartholomew who has lived in Elk grove, gets alittle tickled about that fact that sheep are back on his property due to fact his father used have sheep grazing the land for many years. There is something to say about going back to "old school" practices when discussing weed management. 

Natural Weed Control: Sheep are excellent grazers, munching on weeds and cover crops that can compete with vines for water and nutrients. By allowing sheep to roam the vineyard, we reduce the need for harmful herbicides, promoting a healthier ecosystem within our vineyard.

Fertilization: Sheep naturally fertilize the soil as they graze, depositing valuable nutrients that enrich the vineyard's microbial life. This natural form of fertilization enhances soil health, which in turn improves grape quality and vineyard sustainability.

Erosion Control: Sheep's hooves help to aerate the soil and promote water infiltration, reducing the risk of erosion. This is particularly beneficial on hillsides where erosion control is crucial for preserving the integrity of the vineyard.

Reduced Carbon Footprint: By using sheep for weed control and fertilization, we reduce the need for heavy machinery, which decreases our carbon footprint. This aligns with our commitment to sustainable practices and minimizing our environmental impact.

Enhanced Biodiversity: Introducing sheep into the vineyard promotes biodiversity by creating a more dynamic ecosystem. Their presence encourages the growth of beneficial insects and microbes, which can help control pests naturally.

Improved Vineyard Aesthetics: Beyond their practical benefits, sheep are darn cute! I get to walk the vineyard every morning watching the the new lamb hop around. Our three children; Aislyn, Avery and Damian just love going out there to try and pet and feed them grass. 

In conclusion, bringing sheep into the vineyard is a sustainable and eco-friendly practice that aligns perfectly with our values at Christopher Cellars. It not only benefits the environment but also contributes to the quality and character of our wines. We're proud to be pioneers in this innovative approach, and we look forward to continuing to explore new ways to enhance our vineyard's sustainability.


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