Harvest-to-Harvest: Trip Five

The Slaughter

Every animal on the vineyard serves its purpose until their time is up – whether or not it’s by natures calling. Recently the sheep leader was killed by a mountain lion, and hawks have swooped down attacking the other livestock. This is life in El Dorado County, CA.

Today was a premeditated kill.
Every 6 months a sheep or 2 are slaughtered for food that supplies a couple of families for half a year. Recently 2 sheep were born, which continues this cycle of life and death.

When I arrived at the vineyard, Chris and his son Theo was trying to corral the flock of sheep into the upper pen. All of the sheep had ran off, so we decided to herd them down to the lower pen area.
Yes, I was a shepherd for a few hours 😃

The idea was to get them all into one pen, and then separate the 2 to be slaughtered from the group.

As we were separating them, the buck got stuck in the pen and freaked out. He bolted through a barbed wire fence like lightning. It’s like a 300 pound motorcycle going from 0-60 in less than a second. Scary fast, and would’ve killed anything standing in its way.

Anyway, we finally got the 2 sheep separated, but to our amazement they escaped! They kept body slamming the gate that enclosed the pen area and eventually popped it open to get free. Crazy!!!

We herded them back up the hill, where Chris lured them into the upper pen area and finally got the 2 chosen ones separated.



Gary showed up with his onsite butchering truck. He shot them in the head, slit their throats (for them to bleed out), and proceeded with the rest of the slaughtering process.



It’s not the most beautiful thing in the world to witness, but truly amazing.


Afterwards, the carcasses are taken to the butcher shop where the “butchery” is performed.


The following day was all about wine bottling. This was quite a change from slaughtering sheep.

The process starts with hooking up the wine bottling machine to the wine tank, and then cases of empty bottles are unloaded onto a conveyor belt.



The bottles make their way into an area where they are cleaned.



They then get filled with with wine, corked, and slapped with a label. The finished bottles come out on the other side where they get repacked and stored.


This wasn’t as exciting as the first day, but was just as educational.


Photography Info
Camera: Canon 5D Mark 2
Lighting: Available Light


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