Booze | January 8, 2021 11:25 am

The Next Big Issue for Champagne? Sheep Theft.

Animals and a solar panel were taken from Moët's new eco-vineyard

Outside the Moet vineyard
A stone marker indicates the vineyards belong to Champagne Moët & Chandon in the village of Ay
David Silverman/Getty Images

When drinks giant Moët Hennessy decided to make their vineyards herbicide-free and more sustainable, they probably didn’t realize one of their biggest headaches would be involuntary loss of sheep.

A multi-million dollar effort announced early last year by the world’s largest Champagne producer recently hit some unexpected turbulence when it was discovered that 14 sheep (and a solar panel) had been taken by thieves, according to the Champagne-region newspaper L’Union and reported by The Drinks Business.

The sheep were used to regulate the grass and weeds in the vineyard, in lieu of mowers or herbicides. The solar panel was used to power the electric fence to keep in the animals.

This incident can’t be chalked up to a fun little prank; the eco-grazing experiment may have to temporarily end. “The facts oblige us for the moment to stop the experiment. We leave a little time for reflection before making a decision,” as Reynald Loiseau, head of the vineyard, told the local paper (note: that’s a rough translation).

Moët Hennessy has made sustainable and eco-friendly practices a central tenet to their brand; last year they announced a €20M investment in a research center in the Champagne Region devoted to scientific research around sustainable viticulture, as well as a “University of Living Soils” to encourage the sharing of eco-conscious knowledge and best practices.

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