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that subject, was actually the subject of an email I got from a grower posted in one of the growers groups I'm in. Text:

"Subject: Spray 'til you die!

Spray every day between


There was over whelming support for this position of spraying chemical fungicides everyday to get this grower through the wet spell. So my questions for the wine lovers out there. How do you feel about that? How do you feel about the product you love so much being treated so heavily with chemicals? Did you know? Do you care? Does it matter to you? Do you worry about it? What do you think as the consumer?

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart
Original Post
It does concern me to a degree. Mostly, I'm concerned about what tpye of effect these fungicides have on the local environment, particularly the ground water. I don't think it will sway my drinking habits, because I don't really know how damaging these particular chemicals are.

One of the things I like(d) about the wine growing industry (at least this is what I've heard) is that many viticulturists are scaling back the amount of pesticide used as vines that grow without competition or mild insect infestation do not struggle enough to grow concentrated fruit. Hopefully this is true.
In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. In a semi-perfect world, when you had to use these things, they would be perfectly safe for the grape consumer and the environment.

I KNOW we don't live in a perfect world, and I suspect we don't line in a semi-perfect world.

tlily -- my response was met to be light-hearted, but there was a grain of truth there -- if it tastes good and its safe, spray away. I suspect from your response that there are other concerns here....

"Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too."
Eek Eek Eek


Doesn't sound reasonable.
Which is the fungicide in question?
And although Wine Spam is correct in his assertion of less chemical or "softer" chemical use, insect control without chemicals is "easy".
Fungicidal control in certain areas is next to impossible without chemical use.

The answer is yes, I'd be worried, but to what extent would depend on the chemical used.
I agree with GZN. Life is too short to worry about something I can't control. And even though theoretically I could do some due diligence to find out how each wine I wish to buy has been chemically treated, why bother? I mean, 2nd hand smoke or exhaust from the commute will get me long before wine will. And don't think the fruit and veggie growers don't do the same. I know, I know; organic, only buy organic. Well, a bad case of e-coli isn't too appealing either. I say spray on!
Not to be a smart aleck, but it depends entirely on what's being sprayed and at what point in the growing season. Anything applied a day or two before harvest would be of interest, if not concern, to me. Most herbicides/fungicides/insecticides are engineered to be fairly quickly broken down, making the final contamination of the wine (or other agricultural product) miniscule to nil given enough lead time.

Assuming that late application isn't an issue, the "collateral damage" of the treatment depends entirely on the chemical being applied, the method of application, and the environment in which it is applied.

As an entomologist, I generally take a "less is more" stance towards insecticides (by buying organic veggies, etc.). Then again, my livelihood doesn't depend on keeping critters out of my produce, and I don't actively seek organic wines.

I certainly do not drink all the time. I have to sleep you know. -W.C. Fields
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with the exception of sulfer and potassium bicarbonate no other labled fungicides for grapes would allow for such a spray schedule without

1.) breaking the law by not following the lable

2.) causing a toxicity problem for your grapes

3.) losing effectiveness

4.) after losing effectiveness contributing to the creation of resistant strains that will no longer be controlled by that class of fungicide

any grower that would do this would be

1.) wasting his time

2.) wasting his money

3.) contributing to the long term decline of his vineyard

4.) a giant FOOL and the scruge of any other grape grower out there

Great points, but are you worried?, do you care?, etc.

Although breaking the law is an issue, I don't believe it was THE issue.
Phytotoxicity using the products you mentioned would be THE biggest problem, unless used at something less than 10% of the lowest label rate.
You say fool, I say ignorance, you just may be quite right! Wink

table grapes are some of the most chemically loaded fruits on the market. i almost NEVER buy non-organic ones. Smile wine is tricky. i don't drink any local wine at all, so to answer your question directly it does not bother me personally since i won't be the one gargling with it. Wink
what's more important here is the overall health of vines. cali wine science insists on heavy use of chemical helpers. i grew up shoveling horse manure around grandma's vines and i'm sticking with it. well, anyway, it's late, blah-blah-blah... and biodynamic wines taste better. there you have it. i said it, that's my honest opinion.

Free Lynndie England!

yes something like that does worry me

most classes of fungicides are less toxic that salt so the chemicals themselves do not worry me, but none-the-less that does not mean that i would like to ingest them at high rates

we can come up with chemicals that work well and are less harmful to the enviornment, but when fools abuse them and they start to fail in effectiveness then what is left, but to go back to the stronger stuff

i have never been one to worry over store bought non-organic produce and have eaten it my entire life

but that said people who waste/abuse/miss-use chemicals only lessen the effectiveness of what is out there and make it easier for the chicken littles of the world to go after all chemicals

and if someone was over applying or applying past the harvest cut off i do not like that as well and would stop purchasing their products and report them as well.....there is no need for such foolishness
So the popular chemicals are; ferbam, mancozeb, captan, Abound, Topsin-M, Elevate, Dithane for fungicides. Nothing particularly scarry. Insecticides; Sevin, permethrin, Lorsban, Guthion and everyone seems to use Nu-film 17 as an applicator. Sevin and Captan seem the most popular.

And yes, sometimes these loonies are spraying 2-3 days before harvest, and yes they seem to have no concept of the points TexasVine brought up. And that's what scares me. If anyone objects or points out the dangers of what they are doing, whinning breaks out about 'loosing their crops'.

Frankly I don't particiapte much in those forums other than to pull out the occasional question from someone in California and warn them not to listen to any advice on spraying, as we don't generally have to do it in California.

But I don't want to get too long winded, I'll post my 'real' motives in a bit on a new post.

I should note also that these are mainly growers east of the Rockies, growing Hybrids to make sweet wines for the local tourist trade.

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart
Did you know that raw manure Eek is a BIG no-no around vineyards.
At least according to the food safety standards for certification we have to go through with such recognized leading organizations as Davis Technologies, Primus Labs, Scientific, Etc.
Good thing grandma Cool never had to go through one of these. Wink
Eurogap certification is even more strict. Roll Eyes

I think it has been a while since Captan's use has been allowed after bloom.
But who knows different places have different standards.
Your last paragraph is quite revealing.
So, what is the REAL MOTIVE?

We are all chewing our nails by now!! Razz

I know over-use of insecticide can kill off all the beneficial organisms in the soil that contribute to plant health and break down minerals so the plant can absorb them. Too much pesticide means no terroir.

Sounds like these growers are buying hook, line and sinker the goods the pesticide salesmen are selling.

Step one for mold is thinning the folliage, so water can evaporate better. You also need to physically eliminate any mold presence if it's established. Fungicides alone (obviously) don't eliminate the problem, they just suppress it.
I had a leaf mold problem on a currant bush. I removed every single infected leaf, and the problem has not come back. (And yes, the infected areas were the most foliated, so I effectively eliminated, by thinning, the area most conducive to mold growth.)

I somehow found myself on the Gardens Alive! mailing list. They are a supplier of a vast array of highly overpriced organic solutions. Might be worth a look for ideas..
So what I'm really after....

My shelves are full of books on growing grapes and winemaking. Not just technical, but Oz Clarke, Norman Remington, that kind of thing. Before I started out to grow on my own I read and read and read. And one thing that kept coming out was that many of the winemakers I love most and enjoy their wines the most are organic or even Biodynamic.

Great estates like: Cos d'Estournel, Chateau Beaucastel, Domaine Leroy, Zind Humbrecht, and even as I read in the most recent Saveur, Robert Mondavi's Napa vineyards for the last 4-5 years. None of these growers talk about any of the 'green' issues with being organic, it's all about the wine quality and the long term health and tipicity of their vineyards that made them turn from chemicals.

Almost every grower I meet who is trying to make quality wine is organic. But none are certified or even advertise the fact that they are organic. To me this is a little puzzling.

I've heard many reasons for this:

It's too much of a hassle to introduce yet more government oversight and costs into your operations (this is my reason by the way).

They fear being placed in the "organic" section of the wine aisle.

They fear consumers assuming an organic wine is substandard after many poor organics of the early 90's.

They fear a backlash if some year they have to spray and thus remove 'organic' from their labels. (Mondavi's vineyard manager quoted this)

So for me 'organic' or 'biodynamic', that's something that will make me try a new wine if I see it on the back label. Not because I'm concerned with my health, but to me it's a sign that the grower and winemaker are trying for quality. They care to go the extra effort.

As for the others as TexasVine roughly quoted above, "they are lazy fools." I think most of those guys on my growers board are lazy fools. They don't give a damn about quality, not one bit. Their knowledge of wine would shock most of you. Aussie Shiraz would be a new experience for them.

So that's the puzzle, and that's why I asked. Organic should be a buzz word for quality, but with consumers, it clearly is not. The reaction to "spray everyday" should be... THEY ARE MAKING CRAPPY WINE THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT QUALITY, but it's not.

I'd actually love to see the editorial staff take this up and help educate the consumer on how to tell the difference between a quality focused grower and one who is not, and do it without just reading a rating point. After all the best finds are the ones you find before the points are out.

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart
To answer the direct question ... in Aust or NZ wines and most New World wines, I have no worry about residuals.

French wines have been problematic (Grun!) as with the usual French habit they spray what and when they want, in defiance of regulations ... then moan when they get caught. They were using lead arsenate a decade after it was banned here.

Like you I cannot imagine what these growers were up to, there are good "soft" sprays available.

Aussie wines in general may only be sprayed four times a season (normally < 20% humidity and > 95 deg, which discourages fungi). Here in Marlborough it is generally 10 sprays a season though more in a wet season. Total sulphur usage is less than 20 lb of elemental S an acre all season. Mancozeb (Dithan same chem.) used before flowering and the cyclic imides (captan etc) and similar can be used up to 35 days prior to harvest.

We attempt to pass the strict Canadian residual rules with only 2 x Rovral allowed (7 day withholding) in the last month. Potassium carbonate and Pot.bicarb work well as does Potassium metabisuphate for late Bot' sprays. These are not protectorants though. Pot.bicarb plus detergent if you get a severe Powdery outbreak around late June/early July can work wonders ... using lots of water (1000 litres/canopy hectare).

I regret that quite simply "quality" is not what goes into the bottle but what goes on to the bottom line. That's what MBAs are for! Frown
Wines labeled as organic are often relegated to some obscure section of a wine shop and the poor quality of them early on has scarred them for life. There are lots of wineries that are organic (Frog's Leap for one), or IPM but don't say so on their labels. They just know that they are doing the right thing. Chemically dependent plants, just like people, are not healthy and healthy plants just taste better.

Madame Leroy of Burgundy is probably the extreme example of Biodynamic growing. Her methods are extreme, but the results speak for themselves.
Maybe this is the next "screwcap" issue. The first wines marketed as organic were so bad, that it has had a similar lingering effect on image.

Another aspect is political. A hell of a lot of people vehemently subscribe to a viewpoint package that organic is left-wing hippie crap, and therefore BS.

To change the subject, do you know much about companion planting?
As I was walking to the car Friday night I thought of another example of the point I was trying to make. Take three scenrios:

1. Winemaker says: "The barrel room gets really hot in the summer so I open the barrels up and add ice to keep the wine cool."

2. Wine retailer says: "It's going to be a hot weekend, think I'll put all my wine outside and have a sidewalk sale to drum up business."

3. Wingrower says: "It's raining every day, think I'll spray fungicide everyday to keep my crop alive."

To me they all say the same thing. That person involved in the wine process is a moronic loon not concerned with the quality of their product. I think that most people would have no problem in identifing the first two as issues and questioning the quality commitment of those individuals, but the winegrowing part they are clueless.

yhn, I can't say that I've studied companion planting. But for a number of reason's I've become an un-fan of monoculture. We've planned to intermix a small rose and herb garden in with every acre we plant as a host to beneficials and to spot problems early. I'm also using poppies and native wildflowers as crop cover, and trying to get out the Spanish Alfalfa as much as possible.

Once I'm through the recovery stage on this vineyard (ie back on budget) I'd like to do some more planting and see what works well with the vines. Maybe a row of Lavander, try Tyme, just see what works and what the vines respond well too.

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart

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