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Sheep Welcome Spring & Increase Biodiversity in our Napa Valley Vineyards

03.05.22

Sheep Welcome Spring & Increase Biodiversity in our Napa Valley Vineyards

Goodbye Mustard, Hello Sheep! For the past two months, the golden mustard waving between the rows in our Martin Stelling and John C. Sullenger Vineyards has cast its spell on visitors to our wineries, while its biofumigant properties worked a different magic above and below the soils: warding off microscopic invaders, attracting beneficial insects and preventing erosion.

Now, with the final days of our colorful cover crops winding down … we’re welcoming the sheep! As we seek to embrace more natural farming practices to foster and preserve the biodiversity of our vineyards and Napa Valley landscape, this small herd of Corriedale sheep will help in big ways!

Far Niente Winery Sheep

Bringing sheep into our vineyards will help promote the ecology and biodversity of our vineyards in a number of ways, says Far Niente Family of Wineries & Vineyards' Director of Vineyard Operations John McCarthy. These are a key few:

Naturally Control Weeds. They’re a baa-utiful alternative to pesticides (we just couldn’t resist the pun).

Reduce Carbon Emissions. Normally, we’d pass a tractor between the rows to turn over the soil and pull up weeds.

Aid Soil Fertility. As these natural lawn mowers nibble their way down the rows, they’ll transform the cover crops and weeds into nutrient-rich manure for our vines.

Bonus: They’ll look adorable among the vines! But, John adds this important note:

"Please do not enter the sheep’s area and DO NOT pet, feed or make fun of the guard dog. He is working and takes his job very seriously."


The sheep started munching through our Sullenger Vineyard at Nickel & Nickel in late February. "We got the slow eaters, evidently," says John, however, they should make their way over to Far Niente’s Martin Stelling Vineyard in mid-March.

And yes, they will feast upon the last of the mustard blooms. If you missed seeing the beauty of mustard season firsthand … we invite you to bring the flavors of spring in the Napa Valley to your kitchen, with this recipe for Mustard-Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Brassica. Slice it thin, top it with our classic red wine shallot sauce, fill your glasses with the velvety dark fruit of our Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon, and let the flavors of wine country unfold.

Sheep and Vineyards Nickel & Nickel
Nickel & Nickel Vineyard Sheep

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