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Isaac Schmid
February 27, 2024 | Getting Started With Wine, Health & Well-Being | Isaac Schmid

Series: Crafting a Healthier Wine - Redefining Winemaking Standards

Part 6 Round-Up, Heavy Metals, PFAS, and Other Toxins

Beyond Grapes: The Hidden Threats in Wine

1. Glyphosate: Tracing the Origins of the Controversial Herbicide "Round-Up"

Glyphosate, a widely used herbicide known as "Round-Up", has found its way into the winemaking process via weed management in ALL conventionally farmed vineyards.  It is widely used in United States agricultrue due to its unrelenting effectiveness to mitigate invasive flora in crops meant to be food for both people and our animals. When it was developed in the 1970's it was a god-send to farmers, making farming, an already logistically difficult and only marginally profitable business, a bit easier. Because of its effectiveness, its use has spread throughout the U.S. and other countries around the world. The dangers of this compound did not make itself evident for almost 50yrs. We have wondered how it could have possibly taken this long to be sure. I believe, the answer lies in how this compound disrupts a biological system. Because there is no direct cause/effect with exposure to it in a human short term its been tough to point a finger. However, because of the now-large dataset(50yrs of injury/sickness corellations & lawsuits) and science and technology has advanced at an exponential pace we can evaluate and conclude definitively that glyphosate is incredibly toxic in humans. A simple search for "glyphosate toxicity" in the National Library of Medicine reveals mountains of research all pointing to, "not super good for humans". Synne Cellars aims to bring awareness to consumers regading its use in agriculture, its potential health impacts and submit to you that it can be avoided in at least the wine we consume.

2. PFAS: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Winemaking

The presence of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in winemaking adds another layer of complexity to the health considerations associated with wine consumption. PFAS, known for their persistence in the environment, forever chemicals can enter the winemaking process through various channels, from water sources to packaging materials. Due to lack of resources, regulating authorities have landed on a "Nothing we can do about it now"  attitude. The dangers of PFAS contamination is a relatively recent discussion, some of the data is concerning some of the data is benign. The hope is, to do the best we can to understand it and if/how we can avoid it if its dangerous. For now obvious ways to reduce the likelyhood of contamination in wine include choosing vineyards or production sites away from fire training areas, military training areas, nuclear power plants, landfills, recycle centers, and garbage transfer stations. All seem like a good idea anyways.

3. Heavy Metals: The Silent Threats Lurking in Wines (soo dramatic!!)

Heavy metals, though naturally occurring in soil, can pose health risks when present in elevated levels. Most modern agriculture has banned pesticides containing heavy metals but could still linger in some areas where it was heavily used in the past. The most common avenue for heavy metals to enter a winemaking process would be using an affected areas ground water in the viticulture and winemaking process. Testing soils and using appropriate water filtration systems would greatly reduce the potential for occurance. Understanding and implementing simple common sense protocols is crucial for both winemakers and consumers who seek wines free from potential contaminants.

4. Conclusion

Glyphosate, PFAS, and heavy metals can impact the quality and safety of wines from around the world. By examining the dangers associated with these substances, consumers gain insight into the potential risks they face when enjoying their favorite glass of wine. Our approach involves not only identifying these threats but also implementing solutions to minimize or eliminate their impact in winemaking. It involves a combination of sustainable viticultural practices, careful selection of agricultural inputs, and rigorous quality control measures. This proactive approach aims to not only address current concerns but also to set a standard for healthier winemaking practices in the future. It is an essential piece to empowering consumers to make informed choices. By understanding the potential threats posed by these compounds consumers can prioritize wines that adhere to higher safety standards. Isaac Schmid's work contributes to create a more transparent and accountable winemaking industry that values both taste and health.

Our sincere hope is to educate and not fear monger, just as you would tell a child to not touch a burner we urge the reader to understand and make healthy choices. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for wine enthusiasts and industry professionals alike, prompting a reevaluation of winemaking practices, encouraging a shift towards methods that prioritize both the rich sensory experience of wine and the health of those who savor it.


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