Harvesting Wild Mustard With Napa Valley Sheep! Eating Through A Vineyard + Hot Air Balloons!

Welcome To Napa Valley’s Mustard Season!

That’s my wife Alex standing amid the massive wild mustard fields – growing between dormant vines!

Take a look:

Napa Valley is home to some of the world’s greatest wines, and it also grows some of the most gorgeous wild mustard you’ll ever see!

During the winter, many of the wineries let mustard grow wild between their vines…for a very good reason!

As I found on the internet, there’s a great reason to let it bloom:

“Mustard and rapeseed are used as cover crops and have been shown to suppress some soil borne pests. When the mustard plant that is still green is incorporated into the soil and decomposition starts, glucosinolates are released. The breakdown products of these glucosinolates are thought to have biofumigant properties.”

There you have it!

Many of the vineyards of Napa Valley allow wild mustard and grasses to grow between the vines during the winter – again, as explained online:

“Mustard is a beneficial cover crop that is either planted or sprouts voluntarily in vineyards to prevent against soil erosion, recharge the soil with nitrogen, and to help suppress the population of nematodes. Nematodes are pesky microscopic worms that cause damage to the roots of the vines which leads to vine decline.”

So, the next question is: how best to cut it at the end of winter?

Even the wineries that idon’thave mustard, they let wild grasses grow.

There are a few different ways to harvest it, but what about these guys?

Yes, the wineries bring in thousands of sheep to take care of it as well – why?

Again, leave it to the internet to have the concise answer:

“The use of sheep grazing in vineyards is an effective method for the management of cover crops, pest plants, weeds and soil. As an alternative to mowing and application of herbicides, sheep can be introduced into the rows between vines, effectively avoiding the vines , grapes, leaves and irrigation.”

And they seem to enjoy the job as well – take a look at this video I shot:

I called them goats by mistake – oh well!

As they chew, sheep do a terrific job of eating all the way down to the root – and they also leave behind some rich fertilizer that can be mixed in to the soil….valuable nutrients for the wine!

We saw hundreds of sheep grazing all over the valley – so much fun to see!

Here they are enjoying their work:

You may not think that winter is a good time to visit Napa Valley – but while there may not be a wine harvest, there is spectacular weather and so many hiking trails and back roads among the vines!

Well, there may have been a FEW storm clouds when I was there in March, but this off-season is a great time to explore!

Also, know that the wineries aren’t as busy when they aren’t harvesting their grapes, so they have more time for personalized tours and tasting!

Maybe time for a hot air balloon over the valley floor as well…here’s a video I created with footage I shot of the balloons floating overhead:

Yountville California

Napa Valley wine country is truly magical – so I captured it in six images – you can see them here:

Since we are talking about animals in the vineyards, it’s only fitting to go back to the iconic Bordeaux wine region of France – check out this video I shot:

Yes, they plow the rows the old-fashioned way – using a horse – click here to see more:

I love wine, and therefore I love wine making – even on an island that gets zero rain!

So how do they grow grapes on the rain-less island of Santorini?

Click here for the unique answer!

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Categories: Exotic Travel, Memoirs, Real Estate, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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15 replies

  1. HI John, I learned new information about mustard plants here. I didn’t know about their properties although the soil erosion point makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was fascinating! I know why you said goats, as they’re often the ones to eat away at poison ivy and clear out many national sites in D.C. I had no idea that wild mustard plants were so beneficial to vineyards. The video shows how vast the fields are. Alex in the wild mustard- priceless! 🙂


  3. We have oilseed rape over here, which looks exactly the same. Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks very familiar. My wife was born and raised in Sonoma.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. such a natural win-win! we need to toast to that!


  6. So beautiful, John! Love those golden yellow fields, and Alex in the middle! I love watching air balloons too, safely from the ground. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice to see the mustard, now bring on the red wine! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved my one and only Hot Air Balloon flight. It was amazing. Your video was great to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

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