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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

Time Posted: Jan 29, 2021 at 3:01 PM Permalink to CORLEY | St. Croix Sheep Permalink
Chris Corley
January 11, 2021 | Chris Corley

In Memoriam : Jay Corley, 1931-2016

Jay Corley, a Napa Valley standard-bearer for nearly 50 years and founder of Monticello Vineyards, passed away on January 11, 2016 in Napa, surrounded by family. The causes were complications from cancer. He was 84 years old.

Jay was born on July 30, 1931 in Chicago, to John and Helen Corley. After graduating from Cranbrook high school in Detroit, Jay moved west to attend Arizona State and Stanford University. He later attended Pepperdine, where he received his MBA. His thesis was based on how to start a vineyard and winery business in the Napa Valley. Jay's interest in culture and languages also led him to serve as an Italian linguist with the NSA.

An entrepreneur at his core, Jay founded and managed a number of successful business ventures in Southern California in the 1960s. His family's long history of farming was always on his mind, and he felt himself drawn towards the reemerging wine regions in Northern California. When the post-prohibition reincarnation of Napa Valley's winegrowing industry began to germinate in the 1960s, Jay was quick to recognize the region's potential for growing world-class wine, and he made the decision to move north and follow his dream.

He established his vineyard in 1969 in the cooler southern end of the Napa Valley, now known as the Oak Knoll District. When he first surveyed his land, he stood in a tired and gnarly prune orchard peppered with black walnut trees, but what he saw was a world-class vineyard with the potential to make classic wines. In 1981, after more than a decade of growing and selling his grapes to other wineries, he built the winery at Monticello Vineyards and began to produce his own estate-grown wines. Jay took great pride that the winery he founded has entered into its second generation, with its third generation showing early interest in the family wine business.

Jay nurtured a strong sense of civic duty, and served on several boards and foundations, including Queen of the Valley Hospital and Napa Valley Planning Commission. He served twice as Chairman of the Napa Valley Wine Auction, served on the Napa Valley Grand Jury, and was longtime and active member of Napa Rotary. He enjoyed his affiliations with the Chevalier du Tastevin, and with his fellow GONADS (The Gastronomical Order for Nonsensical and Dissipatory Society), a group of fun-loving yet dedicated friends and fellow Napa Valley wine industry pioneers.

Jay was a life-long and devoted Chicago Cubs fan, rooting for his beloved Cubbies since he was a kid at Wrigley Field in the 1930s. Jay also cheered for the Stanford Cardinal, and loved to spend weekends tailgating at the eucalyptus grove at Stanford stadium, and cheering on his alma mater from the old wooden benches.

He had a wonderful sense of humor, and would light up a room with his smile and wit. His love of swing music lifted the spirits, and was frequently playing in the background. He was a well-traveled man, familiar with international cultures, yet was most comfortable at home with family.


Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

- Calvin Coolidge

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2021 at 8:57 AM Permalink to In Memoriam : Jay Corley, 1931-2016 Permalink

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