The vineyards at Spottswoode Winery in Napa in 2016. The winery is among a handful of growers that has phased out its use of synthetic herbicides. Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The Chronicle

Roundup products for sale at a hardware store in San Rafael. A Napa nonprofit that ceritfies sustainable wineries hopes to phase out the controversial weed killer. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

This weed killer is one of Wine Country’s biggest controversies. Can a Napa group phase it out?

A first-of-its-kind winegrower sustainability certification program in Napa Valley is changing its rules to require that vineyards eliminate the use of synthetic herbicides.

Napa Green, a nonprofit established in 2004, announced Tuesday it will require members to phase out their use of Monsanto-made weed killer Roundup by 2026, and all other synthetic herbicides by 2028. The program currently has around 90 participating wineries.

“It’s not enough to just ban Roundup, or glyphosate, because alternatives exist,” said Anne Brittain, Napa Green’s executive director.

The move makes Napa Green the first of about 20 sustainable winegrowing certification programs worldwide to phase out synthetic herbicides. It also represents a change in position for Napa Green. Last year, Brittain told the San Francisco Chronicle that she feared banning Roundup would alienate growers. 

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been linked to cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with repeat exposure. Because the potent herbicide can be bought at hardware stores for people to use on pesky weeds in their backyards and home gardens, its use isn’t limited to massive agricultural settings.

Still, earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that California could not place a Proposition 65 cancer warning label on Roundup. That was because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a state health agency have both concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic (although an arm of the World Health Organization previously found that the substance was a probable cause of cancer).

A 2022 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found 80% of adults and 87% of children in its sample had traces of glyphosate in their urine, demonstrating how ubiquitous the product’s main active ingredient can be. In wine production, migrant workers and people of color, who largely work as field laborers, are the most commonly exposed to these herbicides .

“Not only does glyphosate get into the water system, but it destroys the biological activity in the soil and in our environment,” said Phil Coturri, whose company, Enterprise Vineyards, manages grape-growing properties in Napa and Sonoma counties. Coturri has been farming without herbicide for over 40 years, instead making use of cultivation tools like tractors, tillers and herds of hungry sheep, among other tactics.

The move makes Napa Green the first of about 20 sustainable winegrowing certification programs worldwide to phase out synthetic herbicides. It also represents a change in position for Napa Green. Last year, Brittain told the San Francisco Chronicle that she feared banning Roundup would alienate growers. 

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been linked to cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with repeat exposure. Because the potent herbicide can be bought at hardware stores for people to use on pesky weeds in their backyards and home gardens, its use isn’t limited to massive agricultural settings.

Still, earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that California could not place a Proposition 65 cancer warning label on Roundup. That was because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a state health agency have both concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic (although an arm of the World Health Organization previously found that the substance was a probable cause of cancer).

A 2022 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found 80% of adults and 87% of children in its sample had traces of glyphosate in their urine, demonstrating how ubiquitous the product’s main active ingredient can be. In wine production, migrant workers and people of color, who largely work as field laborers, are the most commonly exposed to these herbicides .

“Not only does glyphosate get into the water system, but it destroys the biological activity in the soil and in our environment,” said Phil Coturri, whose company, Enterprise Vineyards, manages grape-growing properties in Napa and Sonoma counties. Coturri has been farming without herbicide for over 40 years, instead making use of cultivation tools like tractors, tillers and herds of hungry sheep, among other tactics.

Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.​

Napa Green & Premiere Napa Valley 💚

Thank you for creating such a beautiful event @wheelerfarmswinery! 

Incredible offerings from Napa Green Certified wineries @aowinery, @chandonusa, @grgichhills, @inglenook1879, @rombauervineyards, @spottswoodewinery, @trefethenfamily, @troisnoixwine & @stsupery!! 

Cheers to @premierenapa!
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The whole team is here and some amazing friends are joining us like @spottswoodewinery, @accendocellars, @aowinery, @stsupery, @rombauervineyards, @chandonusa, @troisnoixwine, @trefethenfamily, @matthiasson_wine & @grgichhills! 

Our first @premierenapa event kicks off at 4pm today at @wheelerfarmswinery!! 🍷🎉
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Grazing in the vineyards with a big assist from Cup the Sheep Dog! 

We’ll see you at our event in partnership with @napa_valley_grapegrowers on Feb 27th at @thecastello! Link in bio for registration. 

#welovedogs #sheepdog #sheepfarming #grazing #vineyards #napa #napavalley #regenerativeagriculture #soilhealthmatters
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Sign up for the Grazing Workshop on Tuesday, Feb 27th at @thecastello at the link in our profile. 

@napa_valley_grapegrowers @perennialgrazing
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Add the Napa Green logo to your back label! 

Find the link in our profile or email megan@napagreen.org. Happy bottling season!
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Not just talking the talk but walking the walk is very important to us. One way we do that is by providing our members with as many tools and resources as possible. Here’s what’s coming up: 

1. Weed Management Equipment & Tools for herbicide-free farming - Thurs, Feb 15th at @inglenook1879 at 9:00am. 

2. Napa Green Premiere Open House for the Wine Trade - Thurs, Feb 22nd at @wheelerfarmswinery at 4:00pm. 

3. California Small Farms Conference - Thurs, Feb 25th with @mimicasteel & Ben Mackie at 3:00pm. 

4. Grazing for Vineyard Health & Fire Resilience - Tues, Feb 27th at @thecastello at 9:00am. 

Find all details and registration on napagreen.org under the Connect with Us tab or just head to the link in our profile. We’ll see you all soon.
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📣 February Events! 

www.napagreen.org ➡️ Connect with us ➡️ Events & Workshops! 

Or head the link in our profile to find it all & how to register with one click. See you all at an event soon.
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Join us for a Grazing for Vineyard Health & Fire Resilience Field Day in partnership with @napa_valley_grapegrowers. During this February 27th event we’ll discuss ways to best utilize sheep in the vineyard and employ grazing animals for woodland management, addressing both fire fuel reduction and post fire recovery. Don’t miss this opportunity to delve into regenerative practices for your vineyard and beyond! 

Find the link in our profile to register.

📸: @sarahannerisk
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History, sustainability & fine wine at Napa Green Certified @schramsberg! 🥂

#wine #sparklingwine #schramsberg #napa #napavalley #winecave #winecollector #winelover #sustainability #organicvineyard
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🍷Wine Trade! Register for our Premiere Napa Valley event on Feb 22nd at the link in our profile!🍷
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Apply for a grant! Applications can be found at the link in our bio. 

#sustainability #climateaction #winebusiness #wineindustry #napa #napavalley #grantapplications #napawinery
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📣 Announcing our first ever NVV Premiere Event! 📣

Thursday, Feb 22nd from 4pm-6pm at @wheelerfarmswinery. Register at the link in our profile!
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Providing resources, tools and education for our members is core to what we do. Come see us at a February event! 

Register at the link in our profile. We’ll see you there!
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Weed Management Event at @inglenook1879 on Thursday, Feb 15th from 9:00am - 12:00pm. Link in profile to register. 

Por favor, mira hasta el final para ver el mensaje en español.
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Save these dates! 3 great events coming your way in February. 

Find info and registration at the link in our bio or at our website: napagreen.org under Connect with us - Events & Workshops!
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