Local vineyard adds flock of sheep to its workforce

Sheep at Nyetimber vineyard
Sheep at Nyetimber vineyard

A Pulborough vineyard has become the first in the country to use local sheep to help keep its vine areas in pristine condition.

A total of 250 local sheep have been put out to graze across Nyetimber’s vineyards. After a successful trial in 2011, this unusual seasonal workforce will be employed for the winter months, helping to keep the vineyards tidy in a winter ground mnagement plan.

Sheep grazing is an effective sustainable and ecological approach for ground management during the winter.

Working with local farmer, Chris Hodgkins of Locks Farm, Pulborough, the sheep will graze across six vineyard sites totalling nearly 100 hectares.

Cherie Spriggs, head winemaker at Nyetimber, said: ‘This is one of those great win-win situations for the sheep, for us and for the environment.Chris,the farmer can rest his pasture, and we get a lovely flock of new employees to help us keep the grass low.

“Not only does the short grass help lower the risk of frosts, it also means we use less fuel mowing and even get some additional manure for our soil. “It’s a sustainable and ecological way of managing our vineyards and we’re delighted with our latest recruits to the team at Nyetimber.’”

Introduction of these sheep reflects Nyetimber’s commitment to environmental best practice. This pioneering English vineyard, with top awards for its sparkling wines, continues to find new ways of driving quality from vineyard to bottle.