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Babydoll SheepEagles Nest Winery - Merlot Grapes

Olde English Southdown Babydoll Sheep

Sustainable Farming

Free Run Wine

Harvest 2014

At Eagles Nest Winery, we use Olde English Southdown Babydoll miniature sheep.  They're an ancient breed of miniature sheep from England. They have sweet, teddy bear faces and are the size of large dogs - only heavier. Because of their diminutive size, the Babydolls make outstanding weeders for use in sustainable orchards and vineyards.   Babydolls are only 24 inches tall at the shoulder when mature, and are less destructive than goats, and also don't climb like goats - thus they can't easily reach fruit tree branches or trellised grapes.

At Eagles Nest Winery, we practice sustainable farming. The goal of sustainable farming to to minimize the impact of your farming operations on the environment.  We produce no waste that leaves the estate vineyards, processing water is used on the estate, we use no herbicides (that's what the sheep are for), no insecticides, and use only minimal organic sprays in the vineyards, finally we minimize the use of fossil-fueled power equipment for tilling to reduce erosion.  An example of our post fermentation wine must (wine and grape seeds, stems and skins) is pressed into pomace solids (grape seeds, stems and skins) which is then spread in the vineyards to replenish soil nutrients and add organic matter to the soil for the next growing season  - thus no solid waste products need to leave the winery/vineyards.

Eagles Nest uses a gentle but costly bladder press rather than a more common hydraulic-ram-plate press to press our wines. Ram presses are efficient but can apply so much pressure to wine must that the seeds are crushed releasing additional tannins into the wine.  Free run juice is juice produced that flows freely (hence the name) from the wine press prior to activation/pressurization. The free run wine is the lightest of the wine produced during the pressing process, no additional tannins are extracted from the skins during the pressing processing process. When the wine must is placed into the bladder press, the natural weight of the grapes forces wine juice to run freely out of the stainless steel screen of the press.  Since free run wine is not pressed, the red wine, or white juice juice contains less tannins thus wine tastes less astringent/less bitter.

At Eagles Nest Winery, growing the best possible estate wine grapes for our hand-crafted, Award Winning Wine, is nearly an all-year endeavor. Grape harvest occurs only once-a-year in the northern or southern hemisphere (6 month seasonal offset) and is the first step our wine grapes make towards the finished bottled wine product -  but it is also one of the busiest times of the year at the winery!

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