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Chris Corley
January 29, 2021 | Chris Corley

CORLEY | St. Croix Sheep

Julianna and I have enjoyed raising St. Croix Sheep for the last five years at our previous place up on Spring Mountain. They're an easy-going breed, and they adapted easily to life on the mountain. This is notable considering they originate from the US Virgin Island, specifically from the island of St. Croix, hence the name. They are 'hair sheep' which is appealing to us, because it means there is no shearing involved.

This past fall, we moved all the sheep down to Monticello Vineyard on the valley floor in Oak Knoll District. Easily adaptable, they have quickly enjoyed mulling around in the blocks behind the winery. St. Croix are generally comfortable around people, and their comfort level around our Anatolian Shepherd guard dogs is pretty good as well.

Now that we're starting to have some nice grass and mustard greens coming up in the fallow fields, the sheep couldn't be happier! This year, we'll move the sheep between two of our fallow fields, and have them eat all of the greenery and recycle it back into the soil. 

Each spring, we can see their Caribbean roots on display as their winter hair starts to turn to dreadlocks and fall off for the upcoming summer! We just have small herd of ten right now, enough for baseball, but we can't quite field a football team. In the meantime, they just work on eating weeds and staying in shape. St. Croix ewes tend to be about 150 lbs fully mature, and the rams can grow to about 200 lbs. The rams don't have horns, but there are other easy identifiers, especially if you're standing behind them. One of the great experiences is when the lambs are born. Maybe we've been lucky, but our sheep have been very self-sufficient at birth, and to see a lamb being born and walking, albeit clumsily, 10 minutes later is really amazing.

Our Corley Family St. Croix Sheep are very happy here in the fields, and as time goes on and the small herd grows, we hope to expand our offerings perhaps with estate grown farm-to-table wine dinners. Lambs finish with a minimal amount of fat and have a small bone to fat ratio. The meat is lean and without the tallow taste, as well as naturally low in cholesterol. Flavor and aroma is mild. Generally St. Croix meat is judged as having good flavor, juiciness, and tenderness.

Our CORLEY Proprietary Red Wine, an 'Estate Grown' blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot would be a good pairing, as would our MONTICELLO 'Estate Grown' Syrah. For more information on these wines, please visit /wines


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