Goat tower

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A goat tower in Illinois, US

A goat tower is a multi-story decorative goat house, modeled on a European garden folly, an early example of which was built in Portugal in the 19th century. The first goat tower was built at Aveleda, a winery in Portugal's Vinho Verde region. Since 1981, several other goat towers have been built in South Africa, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Argentina; these include three at other wineries. The towers typically are multi-story with climbing ramps spiralling the exterior and often become tourist attractions.


stone tower with circular stairs
Torre das Cabras at Aveleda, near Penafiel, Portugal

The first goat tower was built in Portugal in the 19th century and modeled on a garden folly.[1][2][3] Known as Torre das Cabras (Tower of the Goats), it was built by Fernando Guedes da Silva da Fonseca (1871–1946)[4] at Aveleda, near Penafiel, one of the oldest wineries in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.[2][5][6] The tower is three stories with stone walls and a rightward (climbing counter-clockwise) spiral wooden ramp[7][8] and is one of several follies on the winery's estate for which their Follies label is named.[9][10][11][12] Each of the follies, which in addition to the Torre das Cabras include the Manuelino-style Window, the Tea House, the Four Sisters Fountain, and the Guard House,[2][4][6][9] is represented on one of the winery's labels.[11]

According to Francisco Guedes Almeida, a member of the 13th generation of the Guedes family to own the winery,[6] the goat tower and the estate's other follies are "artistic daydreams with no functional explanation" built by various of his ancestors, one of whom "thought the goats did not belong to the plains ... so they built the goat tower, so they could have a mountain."[11] The tower symbolizes fertility and abundance.[13][14]

According to Almeida, he was travelling in South Africa and stumbled across another goat tower and called an uncle to tell him about it. His uncle told him, "You're in Fairview," and related a story of a 1960s visit from a winemaker from South Africa's Fairview Winery who had seen the Aveleda goat tower, was inspired by it, and wrote to the Guedes family to ask permission to build one.[11]


Goat tower at night with goats silhouetted on three levels
A goat tower in Dripping Springs, Texas at night

Fairview built its goat tower in 1981, after the owner's son visited Aveleda and saw their tower.[1][15][16] The tower is used by the winery's herd of 750 Saanen, a breed of Swiss mountain goats.[1][17] The tower is two stories and is built of brick and mortar. It has a steeply sloped metal roof and a wooden spiral ramp encircling the tower. It is a tourist attraction in the Cape Winelands area.[18]

The winery uses images of the tower and goats in their branding,[1] producing a wine called Goats do Roam, a pun on Côtes du Rhône, and one called Goat Roti, a pun on Côte Rôtie.[19][20] The names were seen as a derogatory comment on the concept of terroir, which posits that unique environmental factors affect agricultural products such as grapes in ways that preclude calling two wines made from identical grapes grown in different areas by the same name. A 2004 story in Decanter magazine said the name had "irked France's terroir creator and protector, the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine)", who worry that "some Americans may not see the difference between the wines".[20]

The Fairview tower itself inspired others. In 1998, despite not owning any goats,[21] Illinois farmers David and Marcia Johnson built a 31-foot-tall (9.4 m), 8-foot-diameter (2.4 m)[22] goat tower in Shelby County, near Findlay, after seeing an article on the Fairview tower in the magazine Decanter.[23][24][25] The tower is constructed of 5000 hand-made bricks and has 276 steps made of concrete slabs reinforced with rebar.[23] It has six stories.[1][19][23] The Johnsons call their structure "The Tower of Baaa".[1][19] In 2000, the Johnsons purchased 11 Saanen goats,[17] and the tower is now used by their herd; Johnson says, "Goats are the most curious animals in the world so they use the tower a lot. They come and go, passing each other on the ramp."[19] The Johnsons' farm, now called Goat Tower Farm, has become a tourist attraction and has had visitors from as far away as Poland and Costa Rica.[25]

Brick tower with narrow wooden stair spiraling up the side
The goat tower at Cholmondeley Castle Gardens in Cheshire

Ekeby, a dairy farm in Moss, Norway, owned by Finn-Erik Blakstad, built a tower based on the Fairview tower and uses images of it in their marketing of the farm's milk and cheese and the on-farm restaurant.[1][19] Chef Elizabeth Holm, who runs the restaurant at Ekeby, has a tattoo of the goat tower over most of her back.[1]

In 2010, Finca el Rocío, a goat farm in Valle de Calamuchita [es] in Mendoza, Argentina, built a goat tower for their herd of Anglo-Nubian goats.[26] The tower, which they call Torre de Cabras, was inspired by the Fairview winery[26] and also built using the winery's plans.[27] It has become a tourist attraction.[26]

Hampton Roads Winery in Surry, Virginia, claims to have built at 34 foot (10 m) tall the tallest goat tower in the world to house their herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats after reading about the Fairview tower.[28][29] The winery has a range of wines named after the tower.[30]

Other examples include Cholmondeley Castle Gardens in Cheshire, UK, which has a goat tower for their herd of pygmy goats in the paddocks area[31][32] and a goat tower built in the outdoor-seating area of Silky O'Sullivan's bar on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee,[33] where customers sometimes share their beer with the goats.[1][19] In a Waunakee, Wisconsin, goat petting zoo, a steel goat tower built by the Endres Manufacturing Company was designed in a Bavarian style to match other buildings in the area.[1][34][35]

In 2018, Henly Hills Farm in Dripping Springs, Texas, USA, owners Darin and Maggie Duvall built a three-story goat tower for their rescued goat herd. The goat tower at Fairview Winery in South Africa inspired the one at Henly Hills, which was hand constructed from cinder blocks and masonry. It has a sloped metal roof and wooden blocks serve as steps onto the tower platforms.[36][better source needed]

In 2019, the Maryland Zoo built a climbing structure for their herd of goats, calling it a "goat castle".[37][better source needed]


In 2014, Modern Farmer called goat towers "an idea whose time has come".[1] Since at least 2009, the towers have been a viral meme.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brasch, Sam (16 April 2014). "Goat Towers: An Idea Whose Time Has Come". Modern Farmer. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c American Society of Landscape Architects. Garden design Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Volume 18, Issue 5. 1999. "...Silva da Fonseca, began developing the gardens on a grander scale and building their architectural follies in the 1820s. These are painstakingly maintained today: a stone goat tower three stories high with a spiral ramp of logs..."
  3. ^ Nic Barlow, Caroline Holmes. Follies of Europe: architectural extravaganzas Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 2008 Page 180.
  4. ^ a b "Aveleda SA - A family passion applied to wine | Meiningers Wine Business International". www.drinks-today.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  5. ^ Aveleda website, http://www.aveleda.pt Archived 14 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Penafiel: Quinta da Aveleda Archived 11 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Visao. 27 April 2009.
  7. ^ "Aveleda". 8 March 2018. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  8. ^ Aguiar, Gail (2 March 2015). "Quinta Da Aveleda's Goat Tower". Gail at large. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "No meu copo 269 - Os Follies da Aveleda". Krónikas Vinícolas. 27 February 2010. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  10. ^ Inventário da região da Norte (PDF). Pôle du document numérique: Pôle du document numérique, MRSH, Université de Caen Normandie. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d "We have to be open to rediscover some wines: Francisco Guedes Almeida, heir to the Aveleda Group, reveals behind the scenes the succession and challenges of a 1,000-year-old family business". Revista ADEGA (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2 April 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  12. ^ Page, Karen; Dornenburg, Andrew (6 December 2011). The Food Lover's Guide to Wine. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-08406-2.
  13. ^ "At Quinta da Aveleda, architecture joins nature and becomes much more than just detail. There, architecture is really art". Revista ADEGA (in Brazilian Portuguese). 15 July 2009. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  14. ^ Huyghe, Cathy. "Beautiful Winery Gardens That Attract More Attention Than The Grapes Themselves". Forbes. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  15. ^ Erica Platter. A Strange Case of Wine Archived 2 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine. New Africa Books, 1993 ISBN 9780864862600 p.79 describes the South African Goat Tower as one of a series of 'garden follies' based on European originals.
  16. ^ "Fairview Farm has goat this". Cape Business News. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  17. ^ a b Smyser, Sue (20 October 2000). "Tower in Illinois strictly for the goats". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  18. ^ Grobler, Nicol (29 January 2017). "Fairview opens the First Skywalk for Goats". SA Country Life. Retrieved 18 November 2019.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b c d e f "The Goat Tower of Fairview Cheese & Wine Farm". Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  20. ^ a b Styles, Oliver (17 February 2004). "Goats continue to Roam despite Rhône objections". Decanter. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  21. ^ The Great Goat Tower of Shelby County, archived from the original on 6 May 2019, retrieved 30 December 2019
  22. ^ Selbert, Pamela (15 December 2017). "A tower of goats and other quirky Illinois attractions". stltoday.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  23. ^ a b c 31 Ft. Goat Tower Keeps Animals Fit, Happy Archived 19 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine Farm Show Volume 33, Issue 2, 2009.
  24. ^ "Goat Tower". www.dalejtravis.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  25. ^ a b Huttes, Celeste (16 September 2019). "Build It and Goats Will Climb It". Successful Farming. Archived from the original on 18 September 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. ^ a b c "Finca el Rocio Villa Gral Belgrano 3". Costumbres Rurales. 3 September 2010. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Shelbyville Goat Tower". www.robinhoodwoods.com. Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  28. ^ Joseph, Natalie (13 May 2017). "Hampton Roads Winery: One year in". dailypress.com. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  29. ^ Centolanza, Brandy. "Hampton Roads Vineyard & Winery went from a retirement dream to a going concern". dailypress.com. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  30. ^ "Goat Tower Wines". Alignable. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Cholmondeley Castle Gardens – Live Well Cheshire East". livewellservices.cheshireeast.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Cholmondeley Castle Gardens". AboutBritain.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  33. ^ "Silky O'Sullivan's". Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Waunakee, WI – Bavarian-Themed Business, Goat Tower". RoadsideAmerica.com. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Press Release – Goat Tower". www.endresmfg.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  36. ^ "Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  37. ^ Goat Castle, retrieved 30 December 2019

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