1, 2, 3…we’re counting sheep!

Feb 15, 2021 • 2 mins
Team Grappers

Because you can count on sheep…. for eco-grazing!

But what exactly is eco-grazing?  So, let’s get straight to the sheep: if you drive or walk through the Champagne wine region, you might well come across some of our woolly friends. But, don't worry, these gentle creatures have not escaped, they are there for a specific purpose: to graze.

OVICEP - baa baa vine sheep?

Attracted to this new method of weeding, more and more winegrowers and Champagne Houses are turning to OVICEP, an eco-grazing service provider in the Champagne region. The eco-grazing technique is an excellent response to today’s desire to work eco-responsibly as it reduces the use of herbicides and the need for tractors.

OVICEP was created by Louis Van Driessche, the son of a farmer and winegrower, in 2018. When he finished his degree in environmental viticulture, Louis took off to Australia. During this excursion to the land of the kangaroo, he discovered new farming practices which included eco-grazing. Back in France, Louis Van Driessche bought himself 70 female lambs. The adventure could begin. To be as close to as many winegrowers and Champagne Houses as possible, OVICEP decided to set up shop between Reims and Épernay.

Let's take a walk in the vineyards 

Sheep are gluttonous, they eat everything (except thistles) and they eat constantly! If you want to clear the vineyards of weeds from top to bottom, look no further than our woolly friends. Eco-grazing is a technique that works well for the winegrower, but also the sheep!

But a word of warning: sheep are easily frightened, so if you want to go on drinking good champagne, don't amuse yourself by shouting at them or making sudden movements, as they could get agitated and damage the vines.

OVICEP takes care of its sheep, checking on them every day, along with their water and the fences (added bonus:  the fences are installed by OVICEP). For a snack, the sheep are even entitled to a bucket of grain. Having spent so much energy going through the vines munching on the grass, you can easily see why they might still be a bit peckish! 

Eco-grazing is primarily practised in the winter, mainly for technical, hygienic and (mal)odorous reasons. Besides, sheep prefer to spend the winter out in the open rather than in sheepfolds. This is because their wool and wool grease insulate them from the cold and damp. Sheep can therefore withstand temperatures as low as -15°C (and oh, how we envy them right now!).