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Wine Country

Biodynamic farming is a growing trend for California vineyards

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles is a 120-acre property that not only grows wine grapes, but houses animals as well. A flock of sheep at Tablas Creek helps maintain a farming process called Biodynamics.

The goal of the process is to help a vineyard function more efficiently.  It's “a practical way of removing weeds in the vineyard," said Levi Glenn, the vineyard's viticulturist. He says this is the number one benefit of having a flock of sheep roaming around the property.

"Number two is the fertilization aspect," said Glenn. "As they eat, they’re fertilizing and spreading that compost evenly throughout the vineyard in a way that we would have to do manually and take time and money and man-hours to do.”

Glenn said the Biodynamic process uses the fertilization aspect of the sheep to create a more biologically diverse ecosystem, eliminating certain tasks required by farmers.

“Our end goal is to be able to graze the sheep across 100 percent of this property," he said. "Right now we’re able to do 50 to 75 percent, so we need probably another 25 more ewes to be able to have enough mouths to be able to take down all the grass.”

Tablas Creek is one of 53 vineyards nationwide that are certified as Biodynamic, or plan to be in the near future—an increase of about 20 percent over the past six years, according to Demeter USA, the nation's main organization for certifying farms as Biodynamic.