Perhaps you've heard the tale that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand?
There are definitely more sheep than people in Yealands' Marlborough vineyards, over 1,500 of them, and they're called Babydolls.
Nestled in the Awatere Valley, in the northeast corner of New Zealand's South Island, the vineyards are surrounded by a ring of hills, and buffeted by ocean winds, keeping it chilly at night.
Chief Winemaker Tamra Washington visited the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference to pour Yealands wines, and share more about the winery's initiatives, some more successful than others, but all unique: seaweed mixed with crushed green-lipped mussel shells laid down as compost for the vines, a team of guinea pig lawn mowers (sadly, not a winner), solar lights in the wetlands areas to attract bugs for the fish, solar panels powering classical music played to keep vines happy, vineyard clippings to help power the winery, and of course, there are those roaming Babydolls among the vines.
In the winery, there are cool advances too: like switching from an egg white fining product to one produced from potatoes, making the wine certified vegan.
Don't the sheep eat the grapes?
No, they're too short to reach them! This diminutive breed get to roam the almost 1,000 hectares of vines while munching on the green grass, with chickens and tiny Kune Kune pigs for company. The sheep are built in weed eaters, with the benefit for Yealands of less tractor use, saving the ground from compaction and reducing machine use.
All this sustainability would be for nought, if the wines weren't delicious; thankfully they are. Start here:
All images and video courtesy of Yealands Family Wines.