On the thorny issue of herbicides and glyphosate

spring vineyards prosecco

Spring is a marvelous season. Nature reawakens. The cherry trees bloom. And as if by magic, yellow and red strips appear in the vineyards of Prosecco thanks to the use of herbicides.

It’s always difficult to discuss this topic without hurting the feelings of friends and colleagues who use herbicides. And whenever the subject comes up, heated debates often follow between those who use them and those who refuse to use them.

Many have talked about the cost of not using herbicides in the upper hills where tractors cannot be used and all of the work in the vineyards must be done by hand. It seems as those the use of glyphosate doesn’t make financial sense in those vineyards because the cost would be astronomical.

Personally, it’s not the cost that concerns me but rather the entire notion of herbicides. We need to remember that we don’t make ball bearings but rather wine. And we also need to remember that wine tourism, public health, and protection of our appellation are the basis of our work.

When we consider the economic point of view on its own, we also have to consider that many people buy discount wine. I don’t want to put myself on that level. And I certainly don’t want to disparage the hard work that every grape grower must do over the course of the year.

Some have made comparisons to mobile phones and shoes. We all buy those things, they point out, without considering the cost and without thinking about the fact that workers and even minors are often exploited to produce them. You can’t argue with that but that line of reasoning doesn’t include a small and unfortunate detail: the yellow strips beneath the vines are found just a mile from here while the exploitation of minors is hidden by the walls of the factories where they work.

What does glyphosate cost the community?

How much does its use impact perceptions of our appellation in the eyes of tourists who see those yellow strips?

How much does the use of drying agents impact the public health? We haven’t used chemical de-grassers in our vineyards for nearly 7 years. And of course, that means that we have higher production costs than those who use them.

We certainly spend more time working in the vineyards and we’re happy the way we are.

As Alfonso wrote in a blog post, we’ve never bought a Mercedes or a BMW but we are proud of the work that we are doing and we continue to live comfortable with all the amenities we need.

Those who work the earth ethically need to remember that they can’t only consider the short-term. They need to think about future generations who will take our place.

If we continue to exploit the soil, our children will inherit sterile land and I have no intention of letting that happen.

We will continue to use cover crops to maintain the rich fertility of our soil.

And we will avoid using herbicides. We will continue to spend our time in the vineyards to make our Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore the best and most wholesome possible.

—Luca Ferraro

Author: Bele Casel

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