Bordeaux Barely Avoids Helicopter Mildew Treatment

Chateaux find mildew treatments a “do,” but environmental groups find them a “don’t”
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Bordeaux escaped a wine crisis, but lobbyists are still concerned about mildew treatment usage.

There's been a lot of talk about natural and organic wines lately, and for good reason. the Bordeaux wine region saw unusually wet weather conditions, which could cause the ground to be too soft for normal treatment-spraying tractors. As a result, seven chateaux applied for the permission to use helicopters to spray their vines with anti-mildew and anti-oïdium (powdery mildew) treatments.

According to, permission was granted to the wineries, but improved weather conditions allowed the chateaux to use normal tractor methods. Hugues Laydeker of Domaine de Chavelier told, “We were delighted to be able to use tractors and not the helicopters when the weather improved.”

Even though the chateaux will be using their usual procedures, the French Green Party members are protesting, saying that the use of helicopters would be illegal due to a 2010 environmental law. Bordeaux’s local government rejected the party’s claim with a press release that says short-term and limited helicopter use was allowed in exceptional weather circumstances.

A few Bordeaux chateaux limit their use of fungicides, but rely on them for weather circumstances like these, which could cause mildew to completely consume the grapes. But Future Generations, a French lobby group, reports that France’s vineyards make up about 20 percent of France’s chemical treatment use.

Luckily, the change in weather has nulled this entire situation. But in future years, governments and lobbying groups are going to have to compromise the demands of the vineyards with environmental concerns. 

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