Sheep in the Vineyard Tour at Featherstone

I’ve discovered a new love in my life.

Don’t worry, I’m still madly in love with my Ken. No one’s ever replacing him.

But come to think of it, Ken and my new crush have lots of things in common. They’re both cute, fun to hang out with, hardworking, and they both love afternoon naps outside.

Can you guess who it is?

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It’s sheep.

You think I’m crazy, right? But just look at this face.

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My sheep love started with my tour this spring at Linc Farm at Southbrook. I learned a lot during my afternoon there, and got in some serious cuddling with the newborn lambs and their mamas. I enjoyed my sheep visit so much. I’m even trying to convince Ken that if he’s not ready for another dog, how ’bout some lambs?

He’s not too keen on that one.

I really don’t know why.

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Aside from all this talk of cuteness though, I find it so interesting that sheep have an important role in a couple of wineries out here. Southbrook Vineyards is one of them, but they are also very important to the winemaking process at Featherstone Estate Winery

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So a couple of weeks ago, I ventured out to Featherstone to take their Sheep in the Vineyard Tour.

Talk about a great time out for me. Visiting with my sheep buddies, and drinking wine while doing so.

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I love the atmosphere at Featherstone. I feel relaxed from the minute I pull up into the parking lot.

The veranda is a lovely spot, overlooking gorgeous vineyards from every angle. Perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine and a charcuterie board.

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We met out back under the shade of the trees.

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Louise, one of the owners, and David, the other owner and winemaker, joined us there.

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After a bit of welcome talk, they started us off with some of their 2015 Rosé

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We tasted and chatted about wine, learning about Featherstone’s approach to it.

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Next, we moved on to the Black Sheep Riesling, so named for the sheep that help to produce it. The sheep are used in the vineyard to eat away the grape leaves that shade the Riesling grape clusters. Removing these leaves exposes the grapes to sunlight, enhancing their ripeness and quality. Luckily, the sheep aren’t too interested in eating the grapes, only the leaves.

Which leaves the delicious results of their labour for us. I’m not really a Riesling gal – I know, it’s almost sacrilegious to say that here in Ontario –  but this one was nice. Crisp and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer’s day.

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So we headed out into the vineyard to meet these helpful animals.

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We stopped at the vines where David explained what the sheep do again.

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What’s really interesting is that Featherstone uses other ecologically sensitive practices too. The vineyards are kept insecticide free, and they use birds of prey to control the birds that will eat the grapes in the fall. Louise is their falconer, and there’s some pretty incredible pictures of her with Amadeus, her male Harris’ Hawk, on their website.

You can also watch a fantastic short little video about the sheep here.

So we set off to visit with them.

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But they weren’t quite too sure about the group of humans that were coming, and beat a hasty retreat.

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Hey, I don’t blame them. They had probably heard about my reputation for talking to sheep in crazy-lady-“dog voice”. The poor things. I don’t know what it is, but I never seem to be able to talk to animals in a normal Joanne voice. Actually, it’s probably kind of nuts for me to talk to them in the first place.

So we walked back and consoled ourselves with some of Featherstone’s 2014 Cabernet Franc. It’s a lovely one – full-bodied and fruity.

We savoured our final sample and wrapped up our tour.

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I was lucky enough to be able to go back on my own and get some pictures of the sheep. One human didn’t spook them too much, even if she was speaking in her goofy “I’m talking to cute animals” voice.

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Probably one of the most enjoyable wine tours I’ve been on in a long time. Like I said, sheep+wine=one happy Jo.

I think you’d enjoy it too. The tour is popular, and does sell out quickly. There is one running this Saturday, August 6th, and details are here. If you can’t make it to Sheep in the Vineyard, they have some other tours that sound fun too. And you still might get a glimpse of the sheep.

Just say hi to them from the lady with the crazy dog voice.

**My tour was complimentary. However, the opinion that this was a fun tour with delicious wine is totally my own**