Miniature animals mow between the vines, while solar and bales of pruned vines create energy to run this New Zealand winery.
I haven't done the math, but I'm sure I spent more time traveling to and from Marlborough, New Zealand, than I spent visiting Yealands Winery, the reason I flew to the land of the Kiwis. The travel was worth it. I saw beauty all around, drank excellent wines and met people with a deep passion for caring for the environment.
"Think boldly. Tread lightly. And never say it can't be done," is the motto of Peter Yealands, the owner of the 8-year-old winery that was Carbonzero certified from its inception. Yealands is determined to be the most sustainable wine producer; he believes sustainability has no end point. But he's also determined to make quality wines. From everything I saw and tasted in my time in New Zealand, he's accomplishing both goals.
Animal employees: Babydoll sheep, kunekune pigs and chickens
Yealands employs Southdown Babydoll sheep to help mow between the vines and provide a natural fertilizer for the vineyards, reducing the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions. The animals' work in the vineyards is mutually beneficial since they're an endangered breed and Yealands gives them a safe place to breed and thrive. Southdown Babydolls are as "scarce as hens teeth," according to Yealands; there are only a few thousand in the world. The flock at Yealands contains 1,500 of these rare animals.
Kunekune pigs pull double-duty in the vineyards. The work alongside of the Babydoll sheep to keep the grass trimmed between the vines and help reduce weeds. Like the sheep, they are miniature so they can't snack on the grapes. They're also part of Yealands corporate waste reduction program. The food waste goes to feed the pigs, and when employees know this, they're much more likely to separate scraps to feed these adorable vineyard workers. I didn't get to visit with these friendly little guys when I was there. (They're currently taking a little vacation from the vineyards, but they'll be back early in the new year.)
Over 120 rescued battery hens have free reign in the vineyards. They come to Yealands in bad condition, not laying and with major feather loss. Most of them start to lay again within a few weeks of coming to the vineyards, where they can roam to their heart's content. Some go between the vines keeping the bugs at bay, some hang out by their coops, and some chill out on the top of a nearby hill, enjoying classical music.
Pachelbel's "Canon in D" was in the air during my tour of the vineyards. Peter Yealands believes that playing music to the vines helps promote vine health and growth. There's an unexpected bonus to this music: The chickens in the coops situated near the areas where music is played lay eggs that are 20 percent larger that chickens elsewhere on the property. (And they aren't just making this up; They've had an independent analysis done to prove it!)
— Read the rest of the story on Mother Nature Network (MNN.com) —
Published with permission from MNN.
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