Sheep Ranching: Creating the Ultimate Sustainable Vineyard

At Shannon Ridge, sheep ranching practices, also known as the Ovis Cycle, provide a harmonious relationship with Mother Nature; they are the framework for our sustainable vineyard practices. And as the seasons change, so do the sheep’s roles within the vineyard.

Sheep in Vineyard Blue Skies Wispy Clouds with Green Grass and Trees

Spring has Sprung

The warming sun marks the start of the sheep shearing season and the weaning of the new lambs. The sheep weed and fertilize the land; all in time with budding vines and the annual pruning and tying of the vines. Having sheep weed eaters means we have reduced use of mowers and tractors, and thereby reduced fossil fuels use, providing a more sustainable ranching system.


Shannon Ridge Sheep Eating Leaves of Grapes in VineyardLong Summer Days

In Lake County, summer days are hot but the nights are cool, and our sheep are on “fire duty” in our non-crop areas. Our sheep ranch is key in our wildfire prevention and protection measures! “Knocking down the natural dry grasses in our vineyards and non-crop areas reduces the fuel for wildfires, which protects Mother Earth,” Clay Shannon notes.

Breeding season also begins in the early summer to add new baby lambs to the vineyard management team. For our current team, as the vines are growing rather vigorously, older sheep are later put back in the vineyards for weeding and leaf removal. Leaf removal is great for the grapes and the wine as it helps manage the canopies and expose grapes to more sunlight and air. Along with the improved grape growth, the work the sheep do allows us either use fewer herbicides or completely eliminate their usage in some cases.

Sheep Walking through Vineyard in the Fall
Fall in Love with Our Sustainable Sheep Vineyards

Harvest ends, but the sheep’s job doesn’t! They enjoy the leftover grapes, cleaning up and sanitizing the vineyard. And as fall settles in, so does their wool.





Shannon Ridge New Baby Lambs with their ParentsWintertime: Raise a Glass

The vines may be dormant, but the sheep are not! We make sure the baby lambs and ewes are staying warm.

Shannon Ridge Bottleshot of 2018 Old Pearl Chardonnay Our Great Pyrenees and Border Collie sheepdogs are ever vigilant, protecting the lambs and their offspring from predators. Pearl, Dale, Gordon, Teddy, Marhar, Frankie, Lad and Cricket all have vital roles within the team. From the strong & big Marhar, who is tough on coyotes, to the sweet Teddy, who lives among the bummer lambs and goats; our dogs are more than just sheep protectors, they are family, each with their own distinct personality.

A special place in our hearts goes to the only female dog, Pearl. Our oldest dog, she has been keeping the sheep safe from predators since she was a pup. She’s named after Clay’s grandmother and one of our wine brands is named after her.

Now is time to raise a glass by the fireplace and give thanks for another great year at the vineyard and to give props to our sheep and their fateful sheepdog guardians, who together create a stellar vineyard management team.

Learn More About Our Stellar Sheep Vineyard Management Team


Shannon Ridge Flyer for Sheep Shearing Event Text with Graphic in Background Every spring, we celebrate the sheep team’s hard work and preview our new releases at the Wine Club member’s annual Sheep Camp sheep shearing party. This club-only barbecue day party is a good way to learn more about our sustainable vineyard practices, including a demonstration of the shearing of the sheep! This annual party is complimentary for Wine Club members. If you’re not already a part of our tribe, click here to learn more about the benefits of being a Shannon Ridge Family of Wines Wine Club member, and learn how you can enjoy this and many other fun events throughout the year!