Biodynamic winemaker convicted for refusing to spray vines

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  • Monday 7 April 2014

Burgundy winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot has been fined €1,000 for not obeying a law requiring producers to use pesticide against flavescence doree disease.

Giboulot vines beaune

Emmanuel Giboulot's vines: He refused to spray his 10ha Cote d'Or estate

The tribunal judge in Dijon suspended half of the fine, which means Giboulot must pay €500 now and may have to pay the rest if convicted of another offence in the future. 

Although the fine is relatively small considering the maximum penalty was €30,000 with a six-month prison sentence, Giboulot said he will appeal the decision. ‘I do not feel guilty,’ he told reporters after today’s ruling.

His case has sparked a debate in France and in the media on whether biodynamic and organic producers should be forced to use pesticide to protect against flavescence doree.

Some argue it's a disease that has no known cure and carries a threat level similar to the phylloxera pest that devastated Europe's vineyards in the late 19th Century.

Giboulot previously told Decanter.com, 'I am not trying to be radical. I simply do not believe that systematic treatment – even without any symptoms of the disease – is the solution.'

An internet petition backing Giboulot's stance raised 520,000 signatures.

Burgundy's wine bureau, the BIVB, declined to comment on the case. But, it said flavescence doree remains a 'major threat' to vineyards.

‘Do not forget that up until now, there is unfortunately no other way (than insecticides) to fight against this highly contagious and fatal vine disease.’

Giboulot's case dates back to June 2013, when an outbreak of the disease around Beaune led to the local prefecture ordering all surrounding vineyards to apply the pesticide treatment. Giboulet, whose estate has been organic and biodynamic for over 40 years, refused.


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