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.​

Seeking third party auditors! Email sierra@napagreen.org for full details!
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Have you been to Napa Green Certified @boeschenvineyards yet?
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Team Green outing today at the stunning @boeschenvineyards as we celebrate big things that we can’t wait to share with you! 🌿
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One of the main resistances to phasing out glyphosate is increased labor and equipment costs. However, the costs of herbicides and fertilizers have risen dramatically, so increased labor demands can be offset by reduced supply chain purchases. 

In addition, leaders like Grgich Hills Estate have shown that regenerative organic farming can be cost-effective. According to an analysis by Brotemarkle Davis & Co. LLP accounting firm, the average annual per acre cost of vineyard management in the Napa Valley is $14,800, with $3,800 in depreciation. At Grgich, they spend $11,000 per acre, with only $1,300 in depreciation due to the longer life of their vineyards. 

Learn from regional leaders about the practical costs, benefits, and ROI of herbicide-free, organic, and regenerative vineyard management.

Confirmed Speakers:
• Ivo Jeramaz, Grgich Hills
• Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyard Management & Winery Sixteen 600
• Brad Kurtz, Gloria Ferrer
• Brenae Royal, St. Supery
• Rebekah Wineburg, Quintessa

Register at the link in our bio.
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“Storytelling is key… and sustainability is the most important topic in wine.”

Thank you @elinmccoy for an incredible and insightful conversation with @napagreen members about the stories most likely to capture journalists attention.
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Thank you to all who attended our Future of Water Workshop yesterday at Napa Green Certified @silveroakcellars! 

Stay tuned for more from our luminary speakers @mimicasteel, @todmostero, @petergleick & our own @abrittain.
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Join us for a special roundtable workshop with award-winning journalist Elin McCoy, global wine critic for Bloomberg News and US editor for the podcast The Wine Conversation, with listeners in 95 countries. 

Elin will sit down with a small group of Napa Green members (max 25 guests) and share her insights on the types of stories and pitches most likely to engage the media. In particular, she’ll focus on stories related to sustainable winegrowing, climate action, and social equity. 

Elin will speak and answer questions for about an hour. Then we’ll break into small groups to develop a story pitch, and come back together to present and get Elin’s feedback and input. This is a rare opportunity to get ideas and inspiration from a leading wine journalist. Register at the link in our profile.
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Climate Action & Regenerative Agriculture! Our sixth pillar that encompasses all that we do at Napa Green. 🌼
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Hear from Winery Program Manager @love.dream.breathe about Energy Efficiency & Savings, one of our pillars of sustainable winegrowing leadership
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We want to sincerely thank everyone who donated either space, time or proceeds of bottles/food sold to Napa Green during Earth Month! We are a small non-profit that greatly relies on donations of these kinds and we’re so grateful for our supportive community. 

Let’s hear it for: 

📍@trefethenfamily 
📍@pineridgewine 
📍@cliffamily 
📍@neotempowines
📖 @karenmacneilco
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Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion. Perhaps our most important pillar of our six pillars of sustainability leadership. 

Thank you for the beautiful description @growresiliently!
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Register now at the link in our profile! 💦

May 23, 2024
Silver Oak Winery, Oakville
9:00 am - 12:15 pm

One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. 

Join us for The Future of Water, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts, and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.
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Join us for The Future of Water Workshop, to explore our water future, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts (all guests will receive a copy of Peter’s most recent book, The Three Ages of Water) and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.

Wine grape quality is closely tied to the right amount of water, at the right time. One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. We’ve swung from historic drought to atmospheric rivers. Our community has huge swaths of unmanaged, unhealthy forests full of non-natives and overrun by firs, amplifying fire risk and undermining one of the most critical systems for groundwater recharge.

The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. A watershed coalition has also formed in Napa County to pilot and model creek & forest restoration for localized water resiliency and climate cooling. 

Come learn more on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00am at @silveroakcellars.
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Sustainably sourced ingredients with Chef Sarah Heller 🌱 Purchase your tax deductible ticket to our Opus One x Napa Green dinner at the link in our profile!
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You’re invited.. 

Full details may be found at the link in our profile. Cheers!
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As we wrap up an amazing Earth Month, we want to thank you all for the support & for coming to see us at our events! 

Let’s keep the momentum going and remember that Earth Day is Every Day! 🌎
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