New Zealand Winery Not Sheepish About Leaf-Letting


Brancott Estate, a winery located in New Zealand's famed Marlborough wine region, snagged a few pages in a recent edition of Country Living magazine for the estate's unusual method of lightening the leaves on its vines – 1,900 sheep.
“Dubbed 'woolly workers',” the article said, “the ewes pluck leaves form the vine canopy to uncover the grapes on the vine, so the fruit can be exposed to sunlight.”
According to the story, the fluffy flock are useful not only for their woolly raiment but also for their knack for chomping on leaves faster than humans could trim them.
“The sheep are quicker than humans at plucking leaves, and they measure at just the right height,” the story said.
Photos provided by Country Living of the vineyard's hoofed strategy show at least 20 unassuming sheep standing between two rows of vines. Some have their noses buried in the verdant vines, while others cast a disinterested look at the camera.
Others are plopped down on the dirt as if to say, “Enough with the leaves. I'm not eating any more until you get me a glass of pinot.”
The sheepish hunger haranguing the vines works out for the pinot noir grapes tucked beneath the leaves – they need sunlight as much as the flock needs food.
The quirky symbiotic relationship – sheep get their fill, the grapes get their light – is a triumph for everyone, the story said.
“It's a win-win for the sheep, the winery and the eventual sippers, too, since pinot noir grapes need sunlight to produce the best flavors,” Country Living reported.
Though some of the sheep in the story's photos seem disinterested or downright tired, Country Living did not mention any talk of labor revolts or unionizing. 
This may be due to the animal's tendency to follow rather than lead.
That all is quiet among the sheep on the Marlborough front is good news for Brancott's owners – the wool-wearers outnumber the bottle-bearers in New Zealand by nearly 68 million.
“You'd be forgiven for thinking we-re pulling the wool over your eyes,” a winery representative said in a recent press release. “But sheep play a vital role in preparing the vineyards for harvest.”

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