Sheep: The Next Lawnmower
Every time I drive up to my parents in Sonoma, I pass a sign, right by Sears Point, that simply says: Woolyweeders.com. I've known about Don Watson's sustainable mowing business for a while (he brings the sheep; they eat your weeds and do their own bit to fertilize) but I've never actually seen a sheep in a vineyard—until Saturday, when I saw a whole flock of them contentedly grazing amongst the vines at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. They were so cute that I had to pull over and snap a photo, which really annoyed the sheepdog guarding them. (Whether or not these are the sheep of Don Watson—who runs his business both in Colorado and Napa—I don't know. But if they are, know that you'll see Watson's lambs not only in the vineyards, but also on a plate at one of your favorite restaurants: Full circle.)
I watched Jacuzzi Vineyards be built. (It's from the same Italian-American family behind a Jacuzzi hot tub.) The relatively new winery off 29 built a brand new pseudo chateau-kind of building on the property—the kind that makes me recoil from the touristy side of wine country. But after seeing the sheep, I checked out the winery's story only to find the family grew grapes back in Contra Costa county way back in the 30s. Today, their farming practices incorporate the "green string," a very sustainable philosophy that uses cover crops, avoids pesticides and of course, uses sheep for hire to do their weeding. In other words, don't judge a winery by its chateau.
It's my favorite time of the year in the wine country; the mustard is blooming like crazy. Blankets of neon yellow everywhere and vibrant green hills. Low on visitors, it's the perfect time to visit. Get out there and stop by Jacuzzi while you're at it and let me know how the wine is.