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Shannon Ranch Lamb wins "Best of" Entrée at Sonoma County Harvest Fair

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Shannon Ridge sheep and dog PicmonkeySheep graze in the early winter vineyard

TASTE News Service October 14, 2014 - Taverna Sofia in Healdsburg, California has won the gold medal in the annual 2014 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Restaurant Competition for Best Entrée, serving Shannon Ranch lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce.

"I think it is great," says Clay Shannon, owner of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines and Shannon Ranch. "Not many ranchers can say that their employees taste so good that they win gold medals!"

Shannon Ridge Family of Wines has a unique workforce. This Lake County operation is the largest scale vineyard in the United States using domestic sheep to weed, mow, sucker, and fertilize their vineyards. Shannon coined the term "Ovis Cycle" to describe this practice. "Ovis" is the Latin word for sheep. They herd 1,000+ head of sheep into 800+ acres of vineyards. Shannon Ranch lambs are raised hormone-and antibiotic-free. The lamb is vineyard-grazed and never corn-or feed-lot fed. The wool is sold for use in textiles and knitting.

"Sustainability has become a buzz-word," says Shannon, "but the Ovis Cycle is truly sustainable because, in the end, the sheep are providing us with food and wool. We also eliminate the need for pesticides and herbicides in our vineyards. I know that when our lamb is served at a restaurant that we are truly partners in a sustainable future. "

As part of the "Ovis Cycle," Shannon Ranch sells 1,400 grass-fed lambs each year to some of the top restaurants around the country, including numerous restaurants in California, such as Farmstead and Press in St. Helena, Bottega in Yountville, and Taverna Sofia in Healdsburg.

About Shannon Ridge Since 2002, Shannon Ridge Family of Wines has been making a variety of wines from their sustainably farmed vineyards in Lake County. The Shannon family is committed to preserving their land, not only for the great vineyard sites but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures which live there. Of their approximately 2,300 acres, only about 800 acres have been converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for the wildlife which wanders through the property.

Editor's note: If you're thinking of visiting the emerging wine country of Lake County, check out the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. In the North Coast section you will find links to the websites of all the wineries, as well as links to Lodging and Dining options. There's even a section of links to craft beer purveyors.

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