Thursday, August 28, 2014

RE: The HuffPo Bronco Wine Brouhaha - People Look for Wine's Dangers in All the Wrong Places

The recent brouhaha over Bronco Wine's mechanical harvesting raised a ruckus in social media and media circles recently. The Wine Spectator weighed in with an overview of why people think cheap wine must have a flaw.

Similar themes - in articles on the themes of wine additives and ingredient labeling - have cropped up recently.

The political clout of the wine industry is hard to fathom in this day and age where everyone is reading food labels and trying to out-organic each other on the foodie front. The wine industry's tooting its horn for "being a food" at the table yet hiding its 25% non-California origins on most bottles labeled "California wine." (Are the grapes from China yet, or still the usual suspect -Chilé?)

But the real wine flaw is in the vines, not the wines. 

In response to the Wine Spectator article, I posted the following comment, which is the same information published in my Biodynamic wine apps in the section on Pesticides. Here's the real danger in wine.


These statistics come from the latest California Pesticide Use Report issued in 2012. 

Thanks to Susan Kegley from Pesticide Research Institute for her help in highlighting the chemicals of major concern.

Bird and Bee Toxins

Boscalid: bee hazard, possible carcinogen
53,340 pounds a year over 239,940 acres

• Chlorantraniliprole: bee hazard
3,877 pounds on 52,626 acres

Imidacloprid: kills bees and birds
44,040 pounds spread on 189,885 acres

Methoxyfenozide: kills bees and birds
28,711 pounds spread on 139,978 acres

Carcinogens - Probable and Possible

1, 3 Dichloropropene: probable carcinogen
666,004 pounds on 2,648 acres

• Mancozeb: developmental toxin and probable carcinogen
9,482 pounds on 6,465 acres

Oxyfluorfen: possible carcinogen
71,267 pounds on 181,160 acres

Pendimethalin: possible carcinogen
142,253 pounds on 68,146 acres


Chlorpyrifos: neurotoxin
52,341 pounds on 28,359 acres

• Glufosinate ammonium: neurotoxin 
70,701 pounds on 114,000+ acres

But Wait There's More...Much More

• Paraquat dichloride: acutely toxic; suspected endocrine disruptor
99,172 pounds on 112,926 acres

Roundup: kills microbial life in soil
646,014 pounds on 431,891 acres

For the complete list, click here (and then, in that document, scroll down to "Wine Grapes.")

Pre Plant Vineyard Fumigation

The most intensive and highly toxic applications are applied when vineyards are replanted. 

In organic or Biodynamic farming, the vines are pulled out and replanted after the field lies fallow - a process which takes three years. 

Some chemical farmers, who don't want to wait, pull out the vines and then basically nuke the soil - killing every type of living organism in it. They treat the soil not as a living system but as a sterile planting medium. To do this, they apply:

1,3-Dichloropropene: probable carcinogen; produces birth defects in lab tests
2011: 446,349 pounds over 1,624 acres


So no - the wine industry isn't exactly making California vineyards a good, safe place to be. The chemicals wind up in the air, water and soil. And, as we see from numerous university sponsored health studies, in human beings, as well.

For anyone who wants to see what is being applied in their area, the State Dept. of Public Health and the California Environmental Health Tracking Program publish the California Agricultural Pesticide Mapping Tool which allow you to map pesticide use for wine grapes in all of the growing regions in the state. To see the maps, go to It's only showing 2010 data now (but is schedule to update to 2012 in the near future).

(Tip: if you find the tool isn't working well, try using it in Chrome or IE. I did not get results when I was using the Safari browser).

For more information on disease impacts in wine country, including geeky data on cancer and asthma rates, you can also take a look at the Environmental Health Tracking Program web site.

No comments:

Post a Comment