Sheep grazing for vineyards and fire prevention

American Lamb Board
Sheep graze cover crops in a California vineyard. Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

The American Lamb Board works with food influencers, food media, journalists and chefs to educate beyond cooking and lamb cuts. The most recent installment of influencer education took place in Napa, Calif., wine country. 

Throughout the U.S. and California, sheep are grazing for several reasons in diverse settings. The Napa retreat highlighted producers Robert and Jamie Irwin of Kaos Sheep Outfit. The Irwins graze their sheep in northern California for fire prevention and vineyard grazing. 

Sheep graze cover crops in a California vineyard. Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

The Irwins are responsible for shifting and relocating 20,000 sheep based on seasonality and the vineyards’ needs. In the early spring their sheep are busy at work, scattered throughout the valley, chipping away at the cover crops protecting the precious vineyard soil. 

ALB’s influencer group visited three wineries where Kaos sheep are contracted to graze. At each stop the attendees heard from sheep producers and vineyard managers about the impact sheep are having on-site while enjoying locally produced wines. 

Attendees learned the important role sheep play in biodynamic farming to increase the quality of fruit produced while also providing a more sustainable farming option. At Beringer Winery, sheep also graze surrounding forest grounds to aid in the fight against wildfires. 

“Educational programs for influencers help us grow a better understanding of our industry’s commitment to sustainable production practices,” said Peter Camino, ALB chairman. “We highlighted the benefits of sheep grazing and the importance of supporting American lamb with a group who can share what they learned with their consumer followers.” 

The afternoon of learning and wine tasting included lunch at the Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch. Guests were served a variety of American Lamb entrées including lamb sliders, house-made lamb merguez sausage, lamb neck gnocchi and lamb shoulder tostadas. 

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