Wine Grapes and the "Dirty Dozen" Foods

I recently received an email from a reader asking about the "Dirty Dozen" of top 12 foods you should buy organic and how this affects wine.  Imported grapes are on the list at #10.  Vineyards can be sprayed by multiple pesticides and no matter how much you wash them, the contaminants have already penetrated their thin skins.  Another point to remember about this is that it does not only apply to imported grapes.  Domestic grapes are still on the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (at #21).  Also, this applies mainly to grapes grown for food and juice.  As for wine, vineyards are normally maintained by the farmers following sustainable guidelines.  In Europe, the European Crop Protection Association keeps a close eye on both grape and wine production.  For those who use pesticides, testing is conducted to ensure they do not surpass the maximum residue level for contamination level.  In almost all cases, contamination is at zero after the wine is ready for bottling.  Australia has strict government guidelines as well. 

In the United States, I am sorry to say, it's business as usual.  It is up to producers, landowners and citizens to watchdog themselves.  I am proud to say that many Americans have stepped up to watch over their land and their neighbors.  Most realize that it's a small and beneficial change over to organic practices.  Large producers like Fetzer, Sutter Home and Frog's Leap took the plunge into organics to create a safer environment for their workers and for preservation of the vineyards and water supply.

My best recommendation would be to go with producers who use sustainably, organically and/or biodynamically farmed grapes ("green grapes").  European and Australian wines should be fine as well.  Unfortunately, due to the lax regulations in the US, I cannot vouch for our producers who don't use green grapes.  Visit producer websites, research or contact them for more info.  After all, it's your health, your money and your wine experience!