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French biodynamic winemaker faces fine for not spraying vines

A biodynamic winemaker who refused to spray his vines with insecticide against a dangerous disease has said he is confident of victory following a court hearing, but prosecutors want him fined.

Vines at Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot

Emmanuel Giboulot
emerged from the courtroom in Dijon today (24 February) to announce that ‘our arguments were listened to and I am fairly confident’.

He was facing a fine of up to €30,000 and possibly prison, but prosecutors requested a fine of just €1,000, with half that amount suspended. A verdict is due 7 April.

More than 500 people gathered outside the court to support the biodynamic winemaker from Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, and 474,000 have signed an online petition.

He is accused of failing to comply with a local authority order to use insecticide on his vines to protect against the disease flavescence doree, which some argue carries a similar threat level to the phylloxera disease that decimated swathes of French vineyards in the late 19th Century.

Giboulot has argued in a previous interview with decanter.com that the insecticide would kill bees and other insects that are crucial to the ecosystem, as well as ruin his family’s 40 years of biodynamic practices.

‘It’s because he has had the courage to say no to insecticides that he is before the court,’ said non-profit Society for the Natural Protection Health (ISPN), which organised the petition for him.

Burgundy’s wine trade body, BIVB, sought to distance the region from unnecessary pesticide use. ‘Burgundy does not pollute,’ said its president, Claude Chevalier. ‘This is a serious vine disease that we are trying to protect against.’

Read Decanter.com’s blog on the vine disease with no known cure here.

Written by Jane Anson

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