Use of Babydoll sheep to control weeds to highlight Grape Growing Workshop |

Use of Babydoll sheep to control weeds to highlight Grape Growing Workshop

LINCOLN, Neb. – One might wonder what sheep have to do with winemaking, but they are playing an important role for one winery in Missouri.

The use of Babydoll sheep at Jowler Creek Vineyard and Winery in Platte City, Mo., near Kansas City, will highlight the annual Nebraska Vineyard Management Workshop, Saturday, Oct. 31, at the downtown Holiday Inn in Lincoln, said Paul Read, professor of horticulture and viticulture in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.

Among the major expenses of running a winery are mowing grass and weed control, Read said. Jowler Creek has found that sheep help keep those expenses down. Colleen Gerke, co-owner of the winery, will be the featured speaker at the workshop. She will talk about how her winery has used Babydoll sheep to control weeds for about a year.

“This will be a very stimulating presentation because it’s not something wineries in the Midwest have done before,” Read said.

Vineyard floor management is the theme of the workshop, sponsored by UNL’s viticulture program in cooperation with the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association. It is open to grape growers, winery representatives and anyone with an interest in the subject.

Other speakers will include Lowell Sandell, UNL weed management specialist, who will talk about weed biology and control. Read will speak about the results of a study on using mulch for weed control and moisture retention in grape rows.

Commercial grape growers from Nebraska will take part in roundtable discussions about potential damage from herbicides used at properties near wineries as well as cover crop management and weed control.

Cost of the workshop is $60 and reservations can be made online at or by calling 800-328-2851.

An optional session on wine evaluation will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30. This session will address the basics of understanding aroma and flavor of different wine types, Read said. Participants will sample wines from five classic red wine grapes and five classic white wine grapes, in addition to examples of Nebraska wines.

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