Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Chemicals & Pesticides in Wines

The Alarming Results of an Independent Survey

Read Time: 8 Mins

Read time: 3 mins

In the world of wine, not all grapes are created equal. While you may be savouring the nuanced flavours in your glass, you might be unaware that wines made from conventionally-grown grapes often come with an unexpected ingredient list—hundreds of synthetic pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides.

One of the benefits of organic agriculture is that it restricts the use of synthetic chemicals and thereby assists with sustainability. Agrochemicals like pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers have a dramatic impact on environment as well as ourselves.

Grapes being sprayed with toxic pesticides

The Environmental & Health Impacts of Agricultural Chemicals

They kill both invasive and good species of plants and animals, they infiltrate the soil and get drained by the plants, they pollute the water and the air, we breathe them, we drink them, we eat them. Chemicals can cause soil desertification and the loss of biodiversity. They spoil the plantations, by reducing their natural enemies and resources.

While we recognise the essential role that agricultural chemicals play in modern farming, it's worth considering the potential benefits of organic practices. Organic farming methods often lead to products with fewer residual chemicals, offering an alternative for those concerned about additives.

The Disturbing Truth About Pesticides in Conventional Wine

Its no wonder the below survey found what it did

In March 2008, a small survey of 40 bottles of wine bought in retail outlets across Europe found some very disturbing results. Here's the exact quote from their findings:

"...Every bottle of conventional wine contained pesticides. On average, four different pesticides were detected per bottle. Sixteen conventional wines contained EU-classified carcinogens, mutagens or endocrine disruptors. Fourteen others contained substances recognised as 'likely' or 'possible' carcinogens by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Three of the wines containing pesticides were produced by world-famous chateaux in Bordeaux, including three Grand Cru classés. Five bottles of organic wine included in the analysis were entirely free of pesticide residues.

Judged against EU standards on drinking water, none of the conventional wines would have been approved for human consumption. On average, pesticides were present at levels 230 times higher than legally permitted in drinking water.

These results suggest that pesticides are commonplace and widespread among samples of conventional wine. This scenario is supported by a study from the French Ministry of Agriculture which documented the systematic transfer of pesticides into wines..."

You can view the PDF study here.

Heavy use of agrochemicals in a commercial winery

From Elemental Sulphur to Synthetic Pesticides in Grape Treatment

Traditionally, products that washed off, such as elemental sulphur, were used to treat grapes, but as they washed off with rain, they needed to be frequently reapplied. Consequently, as grape vines are susceptible to disease, this has resulted in the use of synthetic pesticides that offer better protection. As alarming as the results of the study are, it should be noted that:

  1. The pesticide levels were extremely low.
  2. The pesticides found tend to come from a safe group of chemicals, and they are likely not to threaten human health.
  3. There's no way to handle diseases or invasive insects other than preventing them.

Some alternatives to pesticides are:

  1. Mating Disruption: Commercial formulations of pheromones mimic the natural chemical blends of females. Male confusion is the result of ambient pheromone concentrations sufficient to hide the trails of calling females (nanograms per cubic meter).
  2. Bacillus thuringiensis: a naturally occurring bacterium that works as an insect gut toxin. The efficacy of new formulations is comparable to that of conventional insecticides.
  3. Powdery mildew control: integrating DSS, resistant varieties, BCA and pruning.

Organic Wine: A Healthier, More Sustainable Choice

Organic winemaking - just the way nature intended

Under organic principles, constantly working to have a naturally healthier ecosystem in the vineyard makes the vintner closer to the vines, as he needs to look after them daily.

Organic wines are considered healthier than those made from conventionally grown grapes. They contain fewer chemical residues and generally follow practices that protect both the environment and the people who work in the production process and, ultimately, the consumer.