Thursday, January 31, 2019

At the Press Conference: Unified's State of the Industry Panel Sees "Continued Growth" of the $1.4 Billion Organic Sector

L to R: Mike Veseth, wine economist; Danny Brager, Nielsen, Melissa Lange, Lange Twins; Jeff Bitter, Allied Grape Growers and Glenn Proctor, Ciatti
While organic vineyard acreage is expected to surge by nearly 6,000 acres this year, it barely got a nod from speakers on the podium at the industry's annual State of the Industry panel session, a popular gathering that is part of Unified Wine Grape Symposium in Sacramento this week, attended by an estimated 14,000 participants.

The organic sector's revenues (2 percent of U.S. off premise sales) are growing at 10 percent annually, according to Nielsen figures (from June 2017 to 2018). Two percent of California's vineyards are certified organic, and if the wine industry overall is valued at $70 billion (according to bw166 estimated from tax receipts data), the organic sector's net worth - at 2 percent of $70 billion - would be $1.4 billion annually (including both domestic and imported wines).

At the press conference after the session, speakers briefly touched on their perceptions of this market.

"We will continue to see growth in that segment," said Danny Brager, SVP of Alcohol Beverages for Nielsen, which collects the bulk of available wine industry scan data on sales revenue and volume. "I don't have the exact numbers, but it's certainly growing."

Looking to softer data culled from social media sources, Brager said, "at the messaging level, I think there's a receptive audience. In social media conversations, younger people - or people when they're talking about health stuff - the other topic that comes up is about the environment and sustainability. Organic pops up pretty heavily in terms of those conversations, which are largely younger people."

Mike Veseth, wine economist, said he was watching Shaw Organic, Bronco's new label, which launched in 2018. "They are making an effort to produce about a four or five dollar wine in Trader Joe's...a Trader Joe's buyer is likely to be interested in the organic designation. I'm keeping an eye on that."

Jeff Bitter of Allied Grape Growers said growth is moderate in terms of grape buying for those already in the organic sector. "We see the same organic buyers in the marketplace and we see moderate growth within those same groups of people. I don't have a lot of experience with new entrants coming into the market to buy a lot of grapes for an organic program."

"I think some of the growth is either the big guys that already exist - the Fetzer's [Bonterra's] of the world, Winery Exchange [WX, whose brand Daily Red, is also sold at Trader Joe's] - people that are kind of have these brands that are already established.

"Franzia is probably going to expand internally, but in terms of new entrants into the market, I don't get a whole lot of buyers call me looking for organic grapes that are not currently in that business."

Currently Bonterra produces about 500,000 cases of "Made with Organic Grapes" wine, making it the top selling wine in that category according to Nielsen data. However Nielsen does not include Costco or Trader Joe's sales nor sales in most natural food stores throughout the country.

While Bonterra dominates U.S. sales in this category, with a 25 percent market share, seven of the top ten bestselling wines in the Made with Organic Grapes category are from foreign producers.

Frey Vineyards sales on revenue growth
Nielsen data shows that "Made with Organic Grape" wines are 80% of the wines sold with organic labeling in the U.S.; the remaining 20 percent is split between the other two categories: "USDA Organic" and "Ingredients: Organic Grapes."

However, no added sulfite wine producers' "USDA Organic" wines are often sold in Costco and natural foods stores not covered by Nielsen's scans.

No added sulfite wine producers at the Organic Growers Summit said sales are increasing more than 10 percent a year. Frey Vineyards' production was 270,000 cases, according to Katrina Frey, who spoke at the December summit in Monterey.

In a followup interview, WX Brands said sales of Our Daily Red, another no added sulfite organic wine, were up 8 percent in 2018.

The Mendocino winery's Frey Vineyards wines are featured in Costco in Nevada and California. Frey says the winery can't keep up with demand and has recently started importing organic grapes from Argentina. "We don't have enough wine to fill all the potential Costco markets, but with our new winery (which is expected to be completed in May 2019), we are looking at approaching a few other regions now."

Argentina's Domaine Bousquet, which makes a line of more than 10 "Made with Organic Grapes" wines also reports that its U.S. sales are also up 10% a year.

For more industry coverage of this market sector, sign up for free Organic Wine News Briefs or subscribe to premium content at Organic Wine Insider.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

France's glyphosate exit to be 80 percent complete by 2021, says minister

 Didier Guillaume, French Minister of Agriculture and Food
PARIS (Reuters) - France expects to have cut the use of weedkiller glyphosate by 80 percent by early 2021, its agriculture minister said on Friday, less than previously anticipated due to the number of farmers who will qualify for an exemption.

In November 2017, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to ban glyphosate in France within three years, rejecting a European Union decision to extend its use for five years after a heated debate over whether the weedkiller, developed by Bayer-owned Monsanto, can cause cancer.

The proposed ban caused outcry among farmers who rely on glyphosate heavily and quickly became a prickly issue for the president. Within months of announcing the ban, Macron recognized that 10 percent of farmers would need an exemption.

Read more

Rosé Revealed: Organic Rosé Winemakers Speak at Unified Wine Grape Symposium Panel

Tuesday's Rosé Revealed session featured a flight of 6 wines, including three that were organically grown.

Panelists presented details about their approach to making rosé.

Organically grown rosés featured included:
• Dianthus from Tablas Creek (left) from Paso Robles
• Quivira Vineyards' rosé (center left) from Dry Creek in Sonoma
• DeLoach Vineyard's Estate rose of Pinot Noir (center right) from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma

Read more

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Super Bowl ad for Michelob Ultra's organic beer will bring a moment of calm to the Big Game

Source: CNBC

Americans are drinking less alcohol, and much of that decline is due to lower beer consumption.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has found its Pure Gold, an organic beer under its Michelob Ultra brand, has been successful in wooing customers from wine and spirits. In an effort to keep the brand's momentum going, the beer will make its Super Bowl debut on Feb. 3 with an ad that features a trendy YouTube sound sensation know for calming listeners.

Read more

Biodynamic Fake News

From the Troon Vineyards blog

It’s not their fault, but you see it every week. Fine wine writers printing misconceptions and flat-out wrong information on biodynamics - yes, fake news.

It’s not their fault, it’s ours. Those of us who farm wine grapes biodynamically are not doing a good job of getting out the real story. That could be because the biodynamic movement is not a monolith, but a complicated web with divergent branches and diverse self-interests. That makes for a muddled message and creates an information issue biodynamic winegrowers have to confront. While there may be divergent opinions and methods within the biodynamic community, all share a common final goal.

Here are some random recent examples of the media muffing biodynamics. The authors and publications are irrelevant as inaccuracies like these are more the rule than the exception.


Monday, January 28, 2019

EcoFarm Organic Wine Tasting Features 100+ Organically Grown Wines and Ciders

Thursday night's celebration of organically grown wines at Ecofarm, held as Asilomar in Pacific Grove, brought cider and winemakers together for a grand tasting that included more than 30 producers.

Susan Feinbloom and George Davis  from Porter Creek were pouring Pinot Noir from their 17 acre estate in the Russian River Valley. George had the good fortune of buying land there early on and planting what are now some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in California. His son Alex Davis oversees the vines and makes the wines.

Zoubeida and Remi Zajac's Powicana Farms in Redwood Valley has been getting critical attention.

Dan Berger was inspired to write about their 2015 vintage after the wine won Double Gold at the Mendocino Wine Competition.

The Zajac's, who are French emigres, made their first wine in 2013 from the 10 acre vineyard they purchased, converting it to Biodynamic certification in 2015 after they settled here. They dry farm and practice no till in the vineyard; in their winemaking they use ambient (or native) yeasts.

They make Petite Sirah five ways - as a rose, a sparkling rose pet nat, a still red wine, a reserve still wine and a port.

Another fine winery whose lovely wines are too often under the radar is Manzanita Manor, a project of Jutta Thoerner and Cynthia Douglas, who mostly raise organic walnuts on 100 acres of land. They also lease 30 acres of public land in San Luis Obispo County, growing wine grapes on 5 acres.

From the traditional Portuguese varieties they planted there, they make a port style wine that is the only no added sulfite port in the U.S. It's also the only all organic port as well, fortified with organic brandy.


Other wineries with wines from certified organic vines pouring at the event included:

Made with Organic Grapes (bottle labeled)
• Bonterra Vineyards
• Chance Creek Vineyards
• Preston Farm & Winery (Biodynamic)

No Added Sulfite Wines (bottle labeled)
• Frey Vineyards
• La Rocca Vineyards

Ingredients; Organic Grapes
• Frog’s Leap Winery
• Robert Sinskey Vineyards (bottle labeled)

Wineries that have some organically grown wines (but not all of their wines are organically grown); no bottle labeling
• Raymond Vineyards & DeLoach Estate (Biodynamic) 
• Storrs Winery & Vineyards (certified organic in the estate vineyard in 2018)
• Winery Sixteen 600 (negociant)

"Vegan Wine Thing" Surfaces in Unique London and West Hollywood Venues

Pura Vita
Started in 2017, Londoners have had the privilege of having a vegan wine bar pairing vinyl replays with vegan wine. It's called Winyl.
Image result for winyl london wine bar
Now Los Angeles joins the super nerdy wine category with Pura Vita, an all organic vegan Italian restaurant with am all organic vegan wine list to match in West Hollywood.

In a restaurant first, it calls out which organically grown wines are from certified organic versus "practicing organic." A glass of Querciabella's Super Tuscan, a Demeter certified wine, is listed for $13.

UK Retailer B&M Launches ‘Proudly Vegan" WIne (from Chile)

UK retailer B&M is now stocking Proudly Vegan wine. Made by Broadland Wineries, Proudly Vegan wine is Chilean wine that comes in three varieties - merlot, sauvignon blanc, and rosé - from the Chile’s Valle Central.

[The wine is not, however, organically grown.]

Read more at Broadland Wines.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

EcoFarm Awards Marrone Bio Innovations CEO Pam Marrone ‘Sustie’ Award for Her Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture

Pam MarronePACIFIC GROVE, Calif., Jan. 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 39th Annual EcoFarm Conference -- Dr. Pam Marrone, founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: MBII), will be honored by the Ecological Farming Association tonight at the EcoFarm Awards Dinner Banquet. She will be presented with the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award – or “Sustie” – which recognizes those who have been actively and critically involved in ecologically sustainable agriculture, and have demonstrated their long-term, significant contributions to the wellbeing of agriculture and the planet.

Marrone founded her namesake company in 2006 to discover and develop effective and environmentally responsible, biologically based products for pest management and plant health. Her research screening for microbes and their products has yielded a library of tens of thousands of potentially useful microbes and has given the world several of its most widely used biopesticides. In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Marrone is active with industry and other agriculture- and education-related organizations, including Cornell University, the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists Foundation, and UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

“I had never imagined receiving this award,” Marrone noted. “I am honored to be included among the innovators, the leaders, the early adopters and the guinea pigs that are making the world more sustainable.”

Earlier in the day, Marrone will present the session “Innovations in Biological Control,” along with Michael Gilbert, founder and CEO of Vancouver, Canada-based Semios. The workshop will explore emerging tools and technologies designed to increase the reliability and sustainability of crop production and pest management systems for growers adopting biologicals.

About Marrone Bio Innovations

Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ: MBII) strives to lead the movement to more a sustainable world through the discovery, development and sale of innovative biological products for crop protection, plant health and waterway systems treatment that support a better tomorrow for farmers, turf managers and consumers around the globe. MBI has screened over 18,000 microorganisms and 350 plant extracts, leveraging its in-depth knowledge of plant and soil microbiomes enhanced by advanced molecular technologies to rapidly develop seven effective and environmentally responsible pest management products to help customers operate more sustainably while uniquely improving plant health and increasing crop yields. Supported by a robust portfolio of over 400 issued and pending patents around its superior natural product chemistry, MBI’s currently available commercial products are Regalia®, Stargus®, Grandevo®, Venerate®, Majestene®, Haven® and Amplitude™, Zelto® and Zequanox®.

Learn more about Marrone Bio Innovations at Follow us on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Marrone Bio Innovations Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this press release regarding strategy, future operations and plans, including assumptions underlying such statements, are forward-looking statements, and should not be relied upon as representing MBI’s views as of any subsequent date. Examples of such statements include the potential of the MBI’s products and market projections in cannabis. Such forward-looking statements are based on information available to the Company as of the date of this release and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, some beyond the Company’s control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements, including weather, regulatory and other factors affecting demand for the MBI’s products, any difficulty in marketing MBI’s products in its target markets, competition in the market for pest management products, lack of understanding of bio-based pest management products by customers and growers. Additional information that could lead to material changes in MBI’s performance is contained in its filings with the SEC. MBI is under no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any responsibility to, update or alter forward-looking statements contained in this release, whether as a result of current information, future events or otherwise.

Press Inquiries               
Jay Austin

Commercial Agriculture & Turf Public Relations
Alicia Gillman
Marrone Bio Innovations

MBI Investor Relations:
Greg Falesnik
Managing Director
MZ Group – MZ North America
Main: 949-385-6449

Friday, January 25, 2019

California's Top Pesticide Regulator Brian Leahy Resigns

Image result for brian leahy

California's chief pesticide regulator is leaving his post.

Brian Leahy, who has served as director of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation for the last seven years, announced his resignation in an email to agency staff last week, but stopped short of explaining why.

"It has been an incredible honor to serve as your director," Leahy said in the email. "During that time we addressed many challenging issues in pesticide regulation."


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Could Rooibos Tea or Honeybush Replace Sulfur as a Wine Preservative?

New alternatives to sulfur are on the horizon, according to South African wine researchers.


In 2010 Audacia owner Trevor Strydom was given a cup of Rooibos tea by his daughter as he pondered how he could differentiate his wine. He was looking at the answer.

It started by adding Rooibos wood chips to wine and a unique range of red wines was born. Audacia is now well established and known for their Rooibos Wooded ‘No Sulphur Added’ wines worldwide. They have a strong global following and in China the wines are even sold in pharmacies and promoted for their health qualities.

Trevor sought to patent the use of Rooibos in wine when his scientist patent lawyer suggested looking at both Rooibos and Honeybush plants for their broader antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. A partnership between Audacia, KWV and Namibia Breweries ‘Red Dawn IP Holdings’ was born and research and testing ensued. The first step was to move away from wood chips and develop a soluble powdered extract or tannin.

Further trials showed that Honeybush tannins were far more effective as a preservative in wine.

“Consumers are wanting healthier option wines, so ‘Sulphur Free’ wines will become more prevalent”, says Rina, and KWV’s ‘Earth’s Essence’ range (which uses Genesis) is already successful in the UK, Finland, and the Netherlands. The ‘Earth’s Essence’ Shiraz has zero sulphur, not just none added, but none in total having had 5.5g/hl of Genesis added during winemaking.

Read more here.

Organic nurseries: It is time to be organic from the very beginning (France)

Image result for Viticulture

An organic wine farmer who wants to plant new vines can buy the same vines from the nursery as a conventional wine farmer. But this will change. New rules, although not until 2035, will require organic wine producers to buy organic certified plants.

The nurseries are already preparing. And the authorities are busy writing the rules.

The nurseries will in the future be able to produce both organic and conventional vines, but a certain distance will be required between the different cultures.

In the many wine regions in France that are affected by flavescence dorée, a problematic bacterial disease spread by a grasshopper, there will be rules for how the plants should be treated.

It will, for instance, be mandatory with three treatments with pyrethre, an organically permissible insecticide (which, however, should be used with caution as it is toxic to bees and some other insects).

The rules will also force the organic growers to order their new vines 18 months in advance.

Read more (in French) at Vitisphere.

Gérard Bertrand Expands Alignment with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits: Adds 5 New U.S. Markets for 33 Markets Total

January 23, 2019 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

MIAMI & DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (“Southern Glazer’s”)—the world's pre-eminent distributor of beverage alcohol—today announced that it has expanded distribution agreements with acclaimed French wine maker Gérard Bertrand to five additional markets in the U.S. The new markets are Arizona, California, Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming. With this expansion, Southern Glazer’s will now distribute Gérard Bertrand’s portfolio of wines in 33 U.S. markets, making Gérard Bertrand a strategic national partner. The agreement was effective January 1, 2019.

“Gérard Bertrand has been a valued supplier for nearly a decade,” said Mel Dick, Senior Vice President, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and President of the Company’s Wine Division. “This expansion further strengthens the relationship between our two family-owned companies, and we look forward to building on this great foundation to help them continue to grow and capture additional opportunities across all retail channels.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to share Gérard Bertrand’s fine wines from the South of France with consumers on the west coast of the U.S.,” added Steve Slater, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Wine Division, Southern Glazer’s. “This national alignment enables us to more effectively and efficiently drive growth for Gérard Bertrand’s world-class wine portfolio.”

“I consider this alignment with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits a strategic move for our company in order to reinforce our footprint in the U.S. markets,” said Gérard Bertrand. “Along with Mel Dick, Steve Slater and the entire Southern Glazer’s family, we share the same vision and ambition for the future. We are all excited about the opportunities to develop the diversity of our portfolio.”

The expansion gives Gérard Bertrand access to Southern Glazer’s unmatched National Accounts reach and coverage. The National Accounts team is a one-stop-shop for on- and off-premise customers looking to execute programs across a national footprint. With coverage of 90 percent of its customers’ operating units, Southern Glazer’s can implement programs and easily track performance across the Company’s network. The National Accounts team is also supported by a dedicated Customer Strategy Team that can provide customers with the largest data set in the industry and focus on shopper marketing trends, retailer insights, and trade business intelligence.

About Gérard Bertrand

Gérard Bertrand began his life in the vineyard with his father in Château de Villemajou, the Bertrand family estate, with his first harvest at the age of ten. As a winegrower and owner of flagship estates, he has since acquired a unique expertise of his native Languedoc wine region of southern France. Gérard Bertrand is committed to producing high quality wines and is a passionate advocate for environmental conservation. He is among the leaders in biodynamic wine production. His wine portfolio includes biodynamics wines, rosé as Cote des Roses, sparkling wines from Limoux, white Sauvignon and Chardonnay and red blends from the most prestigious terroirs of the region. Gerard Bertrand wines are distributed in 163 countries.

For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter, on Instagram @gerardbertrandwines and on Facebook @gerardbertrandwines.

About Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is the world’s pre-eminent distributor of beverage alcohol, and proud to be a multi-generational, family-owned company. The Company has operations in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean, and employs more than 20,000 team members. Southern Glazer’s urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve, and enjoy its products responsibly. For more information visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @sgwinespirits and on Facebook at

Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, LLC
Cindy Haas
Senior Director, Public Relations
Office: (305) 625-4171, ext. 1166
Mobile: (786) 498-7640
Jennifer Hanlon
Senior Communications Specialist
Office: (305) 625-4171, ext. 1534
Mobile: 305-898-9982

Mountain People's Announces New Awards for Wines from Chacewater, Eco Terreno, Frey, Girasole, Terra Sávia, & Viluko

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest (and one of the most competitive) competitions of North American wines. This year there were over 6,800 entries! We are excited to announce that many of our wines received awards this year, and are pleased to provide the following list of award-winning vintages that are currently available through MPW. Congratulations to the winners!

Best of Class

 Eco Terreno Three Vine Red (Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot) - Alexander Valley AVA - 2013

The 2013 Three Vine Red is a dark ruby color. The nose is suggestive of sweet black cherry and milk chocolate followed by enticing notes of Herbs de Provence. Smooth yet medium-plus in body, this wine offers bright flavors of blackberry, mocha, and black cherry that are expertly balanced by whispers of dried herbs and toast. The lingering finish echoes flavors of black fruits and herbs.

Double Gold

Eco Terreno "Cuveé Acero" Sauvignon Blanc - Alexander Valley AVA - 2017

In the glass the wine has pale colors of light greenish-gold. The nose is extremely aromatic and has a mélange of citrus fruit and herbal notes – lime zest, white peach and a hint of lemon grass. In the mouth, abundant fruit flavors of green apple, green pineapple and are balanced by a long and pleasingly dry, flinty finish. Made with Biodynamically Grown Grapes.


Chacewater Syrah - Sierra Foothills AVA - 2015
This wine also just won Gold at the 2018 Harvest Challenge!

Highly extracted with leathery, spice richness. Blackberry, toasty oak and beautiful color. Delivers an expansive dense core middle full of complex ripe berry. Generous toasty mouth feeling, finishing as full bodied as you would expect with depth and complexity. Made with certified organic grapes.


Chacewater Sauvignon Blanc - Lake County AVA - 2017
This wine also just won Best of Class & Best of Lake County AVA at the 2018 Harvest Challenge!

Chacewater Cabernet Sauvignon - Sierra Foothills AVA - 2016

Frey Merlot - Mendocino AVA - 2017

Girasole Cabernet Sauvignon - Mendocino AVA - 2017

Girasole Chardonnay - Mendocino AVA - 2017

Girasole "Hybrid Red" - Mendocino AVA - 2017
$118/case, volume discounts available

Viluko "Split Rock" Cabernet Sauvignon - Sonoma County AVA - 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hartman Group Beverage: Gen X, Millennials Drinking A Wider Variety of Beverages Than Boomers

The market research group the Hartman Group is releasing a new beverage report that says consumers' beverage purchasing habits are changing, but 27% of respondents still drink wine at least once a month.

More info here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Organic Champagnes Featured in Decanter

Robert Barbichon, Réserve 4 Cepages, Champagne, France


"We bring you a selection of organic Champagnes to try from smaller-scale producers...

According to the Association des Champagnes Biologiques, only 600 of the 33,000 hectares of vines in Champagne are certified organic, or in the process of certification.

That’s a tiny percentage. The caveat is that not all producers seek certification, citing cost and principles as reasons. Some larger Champagne houses have begun shifting towards organics, and also biodynamics, but it is a gradual process – particularly bearing in mind that many buy in grapes from different growers.

Friday, January 18, 2019

France 2 TV Breaks New Ground in 2 Hour TV Special on Glyphosate: Video Here

France2's new documentary on glyphosate aired nationwide this week, taking a down home approach to the issues over safety, claims of dishonest marketing, the U.S. court case ordering Monsanto/Bayer to pay $78 millon over a Roundup cancer claim, and more.

The two hour and 20 minute national TV program can be seen online here in segments. 

• Glypho or not glypho? 
This section pairs an organic farmer with a conventional farmer as each explores the other's work and views.

• La glyphotest
France2's producers test people's glyphosate levels and reveal the testing results with the test subjects. 

Monsanto, fabricator of doubt
This section focuses on the U.S. court case as well as evidence from scientific experts.

• The impossible vote
The pros and cons of glyphosate in the political arena are the focus of this segment.

Sri Lanka, a country without glyphosate
Sri Lanka discovered, much to its chagrin, that glyphosate combined with minerals in water sources to produce an epidemic that killed dozens. Then it decided to ban the herbicide.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

French TV Explores Glyphosate Debate: See a Clip Here

Vallejo's Dewayne Johnson, the first plaintiff to successfully sue Monsanto for cancer related to Roundup use, is featured in this brief excerpt from the two hour French TV documentary that aired last night in France.


 See more (38 min. excerpt) from the whole documentary online here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Glyphosate News Roundup: Reuter's News Source Faked, German Regulators' Possible Plagiarism, A Professor's Exposé, a French Court's Ban and a Prime Time Debate

France 2 will air a major documentary about the pros and cons of glyphosate Thursday night
It's been an action packed week in the Dept. of News About Glyphosate with five major developments:

1. Was a Reuter's News reporter reporting on the facts? or acting as a puppet promoting Monsanto's point of view? Litigators find new evidence of possible deception and questionable journalistic ethics.

2. Did EU regulators plagiarize Monsanto documents in reviewing the health risks of glyphosate based herbicides? EU members of Parliament say yes, after examining key documents from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)

3. In a parallel universe in the U.S. how did IARC find glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen while the EPA did not? One professor's analysis boils down to the data each body considered. With the EPA, Monsanto presented only data from private industry studies; IARC's team of experts looked only at studies that meet peer reviewed scientific journal standards.

4. A French court found that French environmental protections failed to be enforced in the matter of the most widely used weedkiller and banned its use in France effective immediately.

5. France 2 will air controversial documentary on the pros and cons of glyphosate, sparking national debate.


Lawyers combing through Bayer and Monsanto documents for pending litigation have found new clues that Reuters' top reporter on glyphosate may have been less than honest about her sources when she wrote about Monsanto's herbicides.
Image result for kate kelland reuters
Kate Kelland, Reuters

The current court cases pending against Bayer by plaintiffs (who claim that Monsanto's glyphosate based herbicides caused them to get cancer) have turned up evidence that revises the narrative a Reuters News reporter, Kate Kelland, published earlier, suggesting that the journalist may have promoted a biased view supporting Monsanto's talking points.

Reviewing new material in the matter, plaintiff's attorneys say that court documents do not support an earlier claim by Reuters reporter Kate Kelland that evidence in her reporting was based on court documents. Rather, the lawyers say, Kelland relied upon internal documents promoting Monsanto's point of view - documents that are not in the public record.

For more on this story, see U.S. Right To Know's coverage here.


Did European regulators perform their analysis of glyphosate based formulations in a pro-active manner? Or did they regurgitate Monsanto's point of view?

See the story in The Guardian for more coverage.


Have you wondered why IARC and the EPA could come to such different conclusions about the health risks of glyphosate? A new analysis of the data sources presented says the devil's in the data presented - and omitted.

Fellow scientists point out that IARC is an independent body of scientists with no regulatory power while both EFSA and the EPA are regulators, subject to political pressure.

According to the Guardian, U.S. pesticide expert Charles Benbrook found that:
"EPA regulators used unpublished industry reports in 63% of the studies they evaluated, whereas the IARC relied solely on publicly available literature. 
"Almost three-quarters of the peer-reviewed papers looked at by IARC found evidence of genotoxicity in glyphosate, compared with just 1% of the industry analyses, according to the study published in Environmental Sciences Europe."

See Benbrook's full analysis here.


Claiming that French environmental officials failed to enforce health and safety protections against glyphosate adequately, a French court in Lyon banned the agricultural chemical.

For more on this story, read France 2's coverage here.


France 2 will be airing a major television report on glyphosate Thursday, Jan. 17. For more on that story, click here.

French Court Cancels Monsanto Weedkiller Permit on Safety Grounds (Reuters)

Image result for Court of Lyon france

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court canceled the license for one of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkillers on Tuesday over safety concerns, placing an immediate ban on Roundup Pro 360 in the latest legal blow to the Bayer-owned business.

A court in Lyon in southeast France ruled that the approval granted by French environment agency ANSES in 2017 for Roundup Pro 360 had failed to take into account potential health risks.

“This is a great first, which must be repeated,” Corinne Lepage, a former French environment minister and member of environment association CRIIGEN that brought the court case, said of the ruling on Twitter.

Read the full story on the Reuters web site.

Monday, January 14, 2019

2018 Farm Bill Becomes Law with Wins for Organic

Farm Bill


In late December, President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. Crucially, the farm bill includes provisions to authorize and fund the National Organic Program (NOP), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), and other organic programs.

CCOF and our members worked hard to build support for organic priorities in the farm bill throughout 2018. The 2014 Farm Bill expired in September 2018 without a replacement bill. However, Congress successfully pushed for the passage of the farm bill during the lame-duck session, the period after elections but before the new legislators’ terms begin.

The bill includes landmark wins for organic agriculture, including the first-ever baseline mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). The bill would increase funding for OREI up to $50 million in 2023. The increased funding will provide stable funding to researchers, allow for more organic research to occur around the country, and develop important tools needed for organic production.

NOCCSP, or organic cost share, was also reauthorized in the bill. Cost share is the only program that provides relief to organic producers by reimbursing 75% of their certification expenses up to a cap of $750 per scope. NOCCSP will be allocated less money per year than in the last farm bill, but the program will also reimburse producers using $16.5 million in carryover funds.

The bill also increases funding to the NOP to modernize international trade tracking and data collection systems, funds organic data initiatives, and conservation programs. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides further details in their blog on the organic provisions in the farm bill. 

Bonterra's Equinox Red Wins Best Label in SF Chronicle Wine Competition

Bonterra's label for its red blend, Equinox Red, won best artistic label in the San Francisco Chronicle's Wine Competition. To see a list of all nominees in this category, click here.
Equinox Red 2016

Reduced Copper Spells Trouble for Champagne

The effects of the new rules will be felt in Champagne and numerous other wine regions across France

By Caroline Henry

Organic winemakers in Europe have been left aghast at new rules aimed at reducing the use of copper sulfate in the EU, saying it will devastate some producers.

The recent decision by the EU's Plant, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) committee to phase out the use of copper compounds as pesticides over a period of seven years has been received with mixed emotions by winemakers, especially in France.

The most widely used copper compound in viticulture is copper sulfate (better known as bouilli bordelaise or Bordeaux mixture); it is currently the only effective organic fungicide to fight mildew. In organic viticulture, its use has been regulated since 2009 and, up till now, organic winemakers were limited to a maximum of 30kg/ha across a five-year period, which roughly translates to 6kg/ha/year. This built in smoothing mechanism, or lissage, allowed growers to use more in complicated years, provided they used less in easier years.

Part of the complications encountered during the reauthorizing process were linked to the fact that copper compounds have been on the EU substitution list since 2015, after both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identified risks to vineyard workers, mammals, birds, aquatic organisms and soil macro-organisms. In laymen's terms this means that the EU would ultimately like to phase out the use of copper compounds for agricultural use in the not too distant future, and there is a real chance this will transpire to be the last extension. The new regulation reflects this desire, by cutting the maximum authorized copper sulfate usage to 28kg/ha over a seven-year period, effectively reducing the average yearly usage by 33 percent (from 6kg/ha to 4 kg/ha).

Even if – after a lot of negotiation by the French government – the lissage was kept, providing organic growers with at least a small buffer, this abrupt reduction of copper sulfate usage has been seen by many producers as a real rebuke of their efforts. According to Thomas Montagne, president of the French Independent Winegrowers Association (VIF), the new limitations will leave up to 20 percent of the French organic winegrowers stranded. "When we look at the averages for the last five years, one in five organic winegrowers has used more than 4 kg/ha/year. This is a real problem."

The potential problem is especially prolific in Champagne, Bordeaux and the Atlantic Loire regions, where mildew remains a real issue. Looking back to the last seven years, these regions have seen severe mildew outbreaks in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2018. A survey by the Association des Champagnes Biologiques (ACB) showed that in the five-year period between 2012 and 2016, 63 percent of the respondents used more than 20 kg/ha, and the average yearly copper sulfate usage amounted to 4333 kg/ha. When the 2017 data is added to this, the average yearly copper usage is at 4103 kg/ha, still in excess of the new regulation. It's important to note that the ACB survey is especially relevant as the respondents cover just less than 40 percent of Champagne's organic vineyard area (260 ha of 667 ha).

Pascal Doquet, president of the ACB, told Wine-Searcher that the new regulation is a severe set-back to Champagne's organic viticulture development. "Our data shows that 62 percent of Champagne's organic producers exceeded a smoothed average of 4kg/ha between 2012 and 2017. The new copper sulfate regulation will be a real handbrake for the domains currently in conversion and will probably lead to several domains giving up on their certification."

It's important to note that, even if organic farming in Champagne almost doubled in the last five years, only 2.1 percent of the region's vineyards are certified or in the process of certification. When we compare this to France's national organic vineyard percentage of 10 percent, it's obvious that the region continues to struggle and the new regulation is not likely to improve this.

Delphine Richard, from Champagne Francis Boulard et Fille, reiterates that compliance to the new regulation will be very much weather dependent. "It all depends on the rainfall early in the season and especially around flowering. There really are no certainties, especially not in difficult years like in 2012 and 2016. Of course, I want to do whatever I can to remain certified organic, but if we have a few difficult years in a row and we need to decide between financial survival and keeping our organic certification, we may have no choice."

Others in the region feel that even if they cannot control the weather, the new regulation may stimulate an invigorated effort in technological advances. Stéphane Hardy, an organic grower in Tours-sur-Marne, believes that the reduced authorized copper doses will force the growers to pay more attention to the actual application of them. Eric Rodez, from Champagne Eric Rodez agrees. "To be efficient in the application, organic growers need to invest both in material and people. To effectively protect the vines, it is important we treat at the right time. This means that if it is too wet to use a tractor, we use the chenillard [a light weight tracked cart], and in extreme situations we treat manually, using backpacks."

Another way growers might be able to reduce their copper usage without too much risk is by installing recovery panels on their sprayers. Alain Réaut, a biodynamic grower in Courteron, has been testing the panels this year, and said that, at the start of the growing season when the first treatments are applied, one could recover, and hence reuse, up to 80 percent of the copper applied. This figure was confirmed by Benoît Lahaye in Vouzy, who also tested the panels this year. However, at the recent AGM of the Association Viticole Champenoise, the technical teams of the Comité Champagne (CIVC) estimated the effectiveness of the recuperation panels to be only 30 percent. When asked if the CIVC would invest extra resources in assisting the struggling organic growers, Vincent Perrin, the CIVC's general director, explained that "while the technical teams are always open to exploring methods which reduce the use of pesticides, these efforts would not be focused specifically on the organic growers".

Under the new regulations it will be harder for producers in the Champagne region to qualify as organic.© Spirited Gifts | Under the new regulations it will be harder for producers in the Champagne region to qualify as organic.
Whereas this reasoning resonates in the wider Champagne context, effective technical solutions and/or alternatives to copper sulfate will need to be seriously explored to preserve organic winegrowing in the region. The historically dense planting (between 8000 and 10,000 vines/ha), pruning and trellising system further complicates things for the organic Champenois. According to Johann Merle, technical director at Champagne Roederer, the new regulation may seriously hamper organic growers to attain the suggested yields of 10,000 kg/ha. Champagne Roederer began its organic conversion this year by certifying 105 ha, and, according to Merle, the plan is to continue the conversion. "The 6kg/ha average gave us a certain leeway, which really helped in a mildew-prone region like Champagne. Nevertheless, by working biodynamically, it is possible to harvest a reasonable crop in a difficult year and staying under the new 4kg/ha limit, as we did in 2016." He admitted that it would require a lot of extra efforts and technical investments, and that in the long run another solution would have to be found, to keep the grape costs "reasonable".

A few diehard followers of Maria Thun's biodynamic calendar, believe that following the calendar to the minute can eliminate organic growers' dependence on copper sulfate to battle mildew. Philippe Lancelot, from Champagne Lancelot-Wanner, has a keen interest in astronomy and has tested applying biodynamic preparations strictly following the Maria Thun calendar with great results. However, he admits that it comes with yield losses, and that it is not so easy to work this way on large surfaces. However, over the past seven years he has remained comfortably under the 28kg/ha limit.

In the Loire and Bordeaux, organic producers also remain hesitantly positive. Sabrina Pernet, technical director at Château Palmer, told Wine-Searcher that the lissage should allow them to work within the new limits, based on calculations of the past seven years. Still, she mentioned that if the next few years were to be like 2018 or 2015, the reduced yields would require the château to make changes. Similar reflections were made by Boris Desbourdes, from Château de la Marinière in Chinon, who recently completed his organic certification on his 16-ha estate. "Over the past five years we have met the new 4kg/ha limit, but sometimes at a cost of almost 50 percent of our potential yield."

The main reason for the sharp reduction in authorized copper compounds usage in agriculture, stems from the fact that copper sulfate does not dissolve and hence accumulates in the soil. And this is also one of the main reasons why the EU is looking to prohibit it in the future. However, things aren't as simple and there remain several so-called research gaps unable to explain certain anomalies. For example, there are big differences between the copper content on the soil surface compared with the content at depth. For copper retention in the soil, the copper content at depth needs to be studied. Several biodynamic producers have invested in soil analysis since their conversion, and the results of all these studies are conclusive: over time the copper content at depth reduces to a negligible amount. Pernet explains: "We started soil analysis before we converted to organic farming. One thing I have found striking is that the amount of copper content at depth has reduced year on year since we began our biodynamic conversion in 2009."

This information may prove a valuable weapon in a few years' time, when the organic growers will battle the EU again to keep the right to use copper sulfate, believes Doquet, who has begun to gather data on the subject. Pernet adds that gathering data remains vital as long as there is no effective organic alternative to copper sulfate.

Another consequence of the new EU copper regulation is that, unlike the previous regulation, it is not limited to organic farmers. Since the main reason behind the change is the risk of copper retention in the soil, the regulation applies to everyone. And this is where the real trouble starts, because copper sulfate is widely used in French viticulture. In fact, there are more copper compounds used in conventional viticulture than in organic viticulture. This is because copper compounds are very often combined with other chemical products, and are thus applied by many growers who may not even realize they are using it. Furthermore, the Bordeaux mixture can currently be purchased over the counter, as it is commonly used to protect household gardens from mildew. As it is cheap and easy to get, many conventional growers use it in difficult years to boost their chemical protection and in easy years to save on pesticide costs. To illustrate this, Arnaud Descotes, technical director at the CIVC, told Wine-Searcher that more than half the pesticides used in Champagne were authorized in organic farming, which implies close to 50 percent of the Champagne producers use copper compounds. It is likely figures are similar in other viticultural regions.

However, since there are very few control mechanisms for conventional growers, it will be a lot more complicated to enforce this new rule in conventional than in organic viticulture. Wine-Searcher repeatedly tried to get an answer from Didier Guillaume, the French agriculture minister, on how his department envisaged a control mechanism for conventional winegrowers, to no avail. One reason for the silence may be that there currently is no effective way to enforce the new regulation for conventional growers. The pesticide plan will probably encourage pesticide producers to exchange copper compounds with other chemicals and, at the same time, change the current sales regulations around copper compounds, as well as increase its price. The latter is definitely in the pipeline as several organic growers confirmed a significant price hike for next year.

Whatever happens, it is unlikely that controls for conventional growers will be in place when the new EU regulation takes effect in January.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Music Supporting Paso Winery Castoro Cellars Donates $21,000 to Local Band

Castoro Cellars donated over $21,000 to Templeton High School Band. Castoro Cellars, Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival has exceeded 90,000 dollars in support of local music education.

castoro donates templeton band

Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival 2018 was the 6th annual event orchestrated by the Udsen family of Castoro Cellars. Their 2018 festival, held Sept. 15 & 16, brought more than 2,000 people each day. The success of this year’s event made it possible for the Udsen family to donate $21,320 to the Templeton Instrumental Music Booster’s Association (TIMBA). The Udsen family happily presented a check to the band director of TIMBA, David Landers and Templeton High music student, Dominique Mitchell on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.

As dedicated supporters of the local community and longtime lovers of music and arts, the Udsens have donated the proceeds of each Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival to a local charity. Including this year’s donation their total support has just exceeded an incredible $91,000. Past benefactors have included both the Templeton Education Foundation and Must Charities.

TIMBA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit parent volunteer organization that supports Templeton High School musicians by enhancing their learning experiences and providing additional resources and opportunities that might not otherwise exist. To contact or get more information, click here.

Whale Rock has grown considerably over its past six years and will continue to do so, with over 4,000 attendees over two days in 2018 bringing in 17 bands on two stages, along with collections by local artists, all-ages yoga, kid crafts and games, Castoro Cellars wines, local craft beers, ciders and food trucks, all in a family-friendly environment. Click here for a Whale Rock 2018 recap video.

The 2019 Whale Rock Music & Arts Festival will be held Sept. 14 & 15 at 1315 North Bethel Road, Templeton, CA 93465. For more information, call (805) 238-0725 or visit the Castoro Cellars or Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival website.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

March Climate Change and Wine Conference to Feature Al Gore; Bertrand and Others to Speak on Mitigating Climate Change in Vineyards

img 1
David Furer, CCL Host; Adrian Bridge, CEO Taylor Fladgate; Portuguese Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital, Sofia D'alte, Portuguese Embassy Economic and Financial Counselor; Pancho Campo, CCL Director)
WASHINGTON DC - Following the July 6, 2018 launch of the Porto Protocol by President Barack Obama, US Vice-President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore will address the wine industry and its supporters March 5-7, 2019 at Portugal's Alfandega Conference Centre in Porto of the challenges the wine world faces due to climate change during the Climate Change Leadership Porto - Solutions for the Wine Industry conference (CCL-Porto19).

Internationally renowned presenters Miguel Torres, Banfi ?s Cristina Mariani-May, Krug ?s CEO Margareth Henriquez, Prof. Roger Boulton of UC-Davis, António Amorim, climatologist Dr. Greg Jones, Switzerland’s Dr. José Vouillamoz, Àlvaro Gonzalez of Concha y Toro, Bollinger's Gilles Descôtes, South African water specialist Heinrich Schloms, Britain’s Jamie Goode and Richard Halstead, Gérard Bertrand from the eponymous Languedoc winery amongst many others will share their studies, practical experiences, and strategies in mitigating the effects of climate change.

With US Vice-President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore its keynote speaker, the international CCL-Porto19 conference creates a platform for the wine industry to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate enabling all sectors of the wine industry and its supporters to cooperate in developing a safe and sustainable future.

The Ambassador of Portugal to the U.S. Domingos Fezas Vital shared that “as it was made clear at last year’s conference in Porto, climate change is the biggest threat to future generations. This same conclusion was recently reached by the United Nations’s International Panel of Climate Change in a report issued at the end of 2018 in which we are all called to take action before it is too late...that expert report makes adamantly evident the challenges we all face, the impact and risks of inaction, and the costs we will all have to endure if we do not change course."

"In this context I am very proud to see Portugal leading the way in positioning itself at the forefront of a project that aims at bringing the wine industry together facing these challenges by providing shared solutions in addressing them. This is a collective effort that serves to show how much an old nation such as Portugal can combine its ancient history with a forward looking attitude embracing the future with innovation, creativity, commitment and passion. But to make a difference in changing course, to take action to curb carbon dioxide emissions while maintaining a competitive and thriving wine industry, we all need to work together. This is the main purpose of the 2019 Climate Change Leadership Conference.”

For conference information and registration please visit More information about the Porto Protocol and membership is at

The Climate Change Leadership Porto initiative is a joint effort of various entities from the public and private sector that aim to bring awareness, share practices and call to action the agriculture supply chain regarding climate change policy.

“The Climate Change Leadership conference will share real experiences and provide effective solutions of real examples of what companies are doing to mitigate climate change,” said Adrian Bridge, CEO of Taylor’s Port, the main organizer of the event. “If we share our successes and experiences, we will all benefit. The Porto Protocol commits its participants to adopt and promote concrete actions reducing the impact of climate change, and welcomes the participation of institutions, companies and individuals from all areas.” -- Adrian Bridge

Sunday, January 6, 2019

France's Occitanie Region Launches New "In Transition to Organic" Wine Labeling

The French organic wine producers group Vin Sud Bio has launched a new label for winegrowers who are in transition to organic certification. The label is called CAB.

Growers in the second or third year of certification may use it on their bottles.

The organization hopes it will incite people who were afraid of doing organic because of the three year transition period. The interim labeling may help producers who experience higher farming costs during that period recoup some of their investments in the transition to organic viticulture.


UK Wine Distributor Jascot Reports 132% Leap in Biodynamic and Organic Wines

Miles & John Lowres
John Charnock and Miles MacInnes (Photo: Jascots)
[From Harpers UK]

The soaring sales, recorded for the six months to 31 October 2018, had been driven by consumer demand, said the wine merchant, which has significantly expanded its organic and biodynamic portfolio in the past year.

Supplying restaurants, hotels and caterers, managing partner Miles MacInnes said Jascots had seen an increase across all client sectors.

“More and more top growers are farming organically and biodynamically and it is the quality of their wines that is driving sales forward,” he said.

With demand expected to grow and further growers poised to gain organic certification, MacInnes predicted that growth in organic and biodynamic sales would “continue at pace for the foreseeable future.”

Combined, Jascots’ organic and biodynamic portfolio makes up 15% of its wine list, with plans in the pipeline to grow it further next year, he added.

“We, our clients and consumers prefer to buy organic and biodynamic wines because sustainability matters and organic farming is known to produce delicious fruit,” he said.

In the last year alone, Jascots has added 24 organic or biodynamic wines ranging from premium organic Cavas from Penedès, through to an orange biodynamic wine from Croatia, and organic New World favourites Torrontes and Bonarda from Argentina.

Millesime Bio To Take Place Jan 28-30 in Montpellier

The world's largest organic wine fair returns to its home town of Montpellier in the south of France after a year in Marseilles.

This year's panels include:

• An overview on the organic wine market in France

• A session on "what is organic wine"
With V. Pladeau and Virgile Joly

• The organic wine market situation in France and regulatory developments

• A roundtable on the future of copper in organic viticulture

In addition there are more panels in the afternoon on trade in the organic wine sector that focus on:

• The global organic wine market 2012-2022

• Markets: Germany, Japan and USA

The presentation slides will be posted on the conference web site after the event. Videos may also be available.

The 2018 fair featured 5,700 attendees who visited 993 producers from 15 different countries.

Attendance in 2018 was up 17% over previous years; more than 25% if the attendees were from outside France.

Waitrose's Top Wine Trends of 2018: New + Organic Top the List

Canned wine and organic wines are among the top 10 drinks trends from Waitrose's Food and Drink Report 2018.

This according to MW Pierpaolo Petrassi, who heads up the drinks division at the UK supermarket chain. The company's organic wine sales were up 54% last year.

The company carries organic wines from 54 producers in 18 regions around the world. Bonterra from the U.S. is a major supplier.

"A few years ago, if you were offered an organic version of a drink, you’d expect an element of compromise," the report says. "Maybe you’d find the taste a bit rustic, or the price would make you think twice. This is no longer the case."

"It’s now impossible to taste two wines and say ‘this one’s organic and this one isn’t’. People are buying organic wines because they’re good."

Pierpaolo Petrassi MW head of Wines, Beers & Spirits at UK supermarket chain Waitrose
"Today, winemakers think about the degree to which they intervene in their vineyards more than they used to. If they can find a way to grow grapes organically, creating a product that’s as good value and as good quality as non-organic wine – and in some cases even more flavoursome – then what’s not to like? From drinkers to vintners, it’s time to give organic options serious consideration."

Elsewhere Harpers reported that Waitrose found success with  two organic wines in cans - a rosé and a syrah - from Chateau Maris that "became the hit of summer 2018." The retailer says it expects further growth in this category.

Find in-depth coverage on canned wines from organic vines at Organic Wine Insider.