Court overturns conviction of biodynamic winemaker who defied spray order

The French biodynamic winemaker fined earlier this year for refusing to spray his crop with insecticide has had his conviction overturned.

In April, Emmanuel Giboulot was found guilty by a French court of illegally defying an official order to treat his vineyard against the leafhopper, an insect believed to be responsible for the spread of the highly destructive grapevine disease ‘golden rot’.

Back in court last week Giboulot said he would have sprayed his vines in 2013 had there been an immediate threat. Since then, he said, golden rot had appeared in only 16 villages in the whole of Côte d’Or – and not in his own part of the department, the Côte de Beaune. “This is proof that we are not faced by a pandemic and there was no need to spray the whole département.”

The appeal court in Dijon found in Giboulot’s favour, judging that it was the local government administrator who had acted illegally by ordering crops to be sprayed when there was no clear threat

Giboulot has been using the publicity he has received to warn French drinkers about the impacts of heavy pesticide use in wind production. He told supporters: “There is a social problem here – the impact of agricultural practices and the use of pesticides on the quality of produce and therefore on human health. Burgundy, which has vineyards of exceptional quality, should be promoting practices which respect the environment.”