By Lauren Cross
One of our alpacas, Freddie Mercury (named after the lead singer of Queen), stood center stage on the front cover of our printed newsletter this summer. Since Freddie's debut on our newsletter, the tasting room has been abuzz with discussion about what really are the differences between llamas and alpacas. Let this article be your guide to understanding what makes Tina (Napoleon Dynamite’s pet llama) different from Freddie Mercury (our alpaca). While both animals share genetic links with their camel ancestors (Camelids from South America), they are truly unique in many ways.
Freddie Mercury and our other four alpacas play an important role in our new biodynamic farming program. Along with our two donkeys, the alpacas serve as protection for our herd of over forty sheep including fifteen young lambs who are the “lead singers” in maintaining the cover crop while naturally fertilizing and tilling the soil in the vineyard.
Freddie Mercury and his family confuse native animals like coyotes who are surprised to encounter relatively large, loud, camel-like animals in the wilderness of western California. According to Levi Glenn, Tablas Creek's Viticulturist, our alpacas love water, they play in the spray of a hose or will jump right into a trough on a hot day. Usually Freddie Mercury and his family are out in the vineyard working. However, if you’re lucky, you may be able to sneak a quick paparazzi-style photo with our superstar alpacas, like the one below taken this week, after they were moved from exile outside our planted vineyard back into a recently-harvested Viognier block:
For additional information on our Biodynamic Farming program please read Levi's blog post: Animal Farm: The Benefits of Biodiversity in the Vineyard.
Now it’s your turn to take the stage and show your creativity by designing our new TCV t-shirt. We are seeking submissions of original artwork highlighting our biodynamic program: sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys and/or alpacas. Be creative and have fun! Entries will be accepted through October 31st. To enter a T-shirt design please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a pdf file and check our Facebook page for additional information. The winning designer will receive an insider's tour of the vineyard, winery and (of course) animal operation for themselves and up to 9 of their friends.