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Pesticides in Wine

Posted by on June 11th

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While it’s unlikely to see an industrial-strength crop duster hovering over a vineyard anytime soon, news from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) indicates there’s a valid reason for concern over some pesticides in our wine.

In its Industry Circular, the agency announced a toxic chemical, oxazolyl, in a random sampling of domestic and imported wines.  Although some residual amounts of pesticides are allowed in food products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, oxadixyl — a powerful fungicide used to combat the seemingly intractable problem of powdery mildew on vines — is always prohibited.  Unfortunately for consumers, the agency will not release the name of the offending winemaker in this latest case or even confirm that such bottles have been pulled from shelves.

Stories like this one make me appreciate so much more the efforts of our winemaking friends in the Willamette Valley, from Chehalem to Cristom, who have worked hard to create a certified sustainable label for Oregon wines (called “OCSW”).   These are trustworthy folks with gorgeous vines (and wines) who, hopefully, will inspire other winemakers around the globe to follow suit.

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