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Americans reacting to the lawsuit regarding high levels of arsenic in wine

Regarding the story that CBS reported on last week, regarding high levels of arsenic:

Very high levels of arsenic” in top-selling wines

With a title about high levels of arsenic, it’s enough to scare anyone… And, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines are looking better all of the time… unless you know the producer and its practices well.

It appeared on Facebook, and I shared it. One of my East Coast friends (not in the wine business) shared my share.

Mary (not her real name) wrote the following with her forward, which I believe this is a typical, average consumer reaction:


this is important. careful what you’re drinking. I stay away from USA wines unless I visit a winery

Well, I couldn’t let that teachable opportunity go


aw crap

Jo Diaz:

It’s more price, MARY. Commodity wines… Produced by some of our wine giants, many in the Central Valley, are at least suspect… Unless they come from a sustainable or organic vineyard.


yeah I figure it is about price. But when I’m buying the 10 bottle to have with dinner I go with Italy or France or maybe Chile or New Zealand… I can tell the difference though, I don’t know how the standards are different exactly.


Thanks for the heads up Robin.

Jo Diaz:

I’m happy to have shared this piece with you, so you’d be careful about that commodity stuff…

Having lived and worked in the wine business in California for the last 22+ years, I’ve got an important inside edge. I’ve even worked for one of the companies that’s in this law suit, so I’m not surprised on that account. The bigger they are, the harder they’ll fall, and the less they care about the human element (like all corporations).

Read your back labels, if a “family” name or their commitment to quality is there, that’s a dead give away of being GENUINE. A cutesie stories tells you it’s a marketing department making it up. A commitment to quality tells you that someone really does care. I’ve got one brand that I work for that’s about a $9 bottle of wine and the wine is excellent. The grapes come from a sustainable farm from the Central Coast. (It’s the “house” wine at the White House. If it’s good enough for past and the present president and their guests to enjoy at their huge functions, it’s good enough for us all. I know the family who grows it. They’d call it organic, but to do so says, if there is ever a hard rain, they will have to dust with a bit of sulfur (which is on grapes naturally, too). They’d lose their entire crop, if they didn’t. So, they call their wines sustainable.

Many of your European wines dust with sulfur CONTINUALLY, or they’d lose their crops EVERY year (always rains there, where it doesn’t here). So, I wouldn’t recommend completely dissing the American wine industry, I would just suggest being well informed. Your imports are every bit as suspect as are US wines. Like knowing a great astrologer you can trust, it’s awesome… But, I wouldn’t put down the entire profession, because of a few disreputable ones, right… Says she, who has inspired a few good ones in that department, right?


you’re awesome. all my wine friends thank you too Jo Diaz. It’s def not easy to discern for most of us buying a bottle. Give me a few recommendations sometime. Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc are my go-to’s, and a malbec or rioja as well

Jo Diaz:

Pinot… Russian River Valley Pinots, you can’t go wrong. Sauvignon Blanc… I have one I’m enjoying right now from Concha y Toro. It’s Chilean. I love their wines. Rioja… just Spain, it’s an import. Pick up Oak Grove Wines, when you don’t want to spend a lot, but will always have great wines. Malbec… Argentina. They’re affordable and luscious. (My palate is of the world, now that I’ve been in it for so long. No one place exclusively..). Experiment, just don’t drink jug wines. I’ve never seen a healthy looking wino.


They are taking everything away from us!

Jo Diaz:

No, we’re actually giving everything to you. This is a wake up call for knowing what you’re putting into your bodies. Just read the back labels and avoid inexpensive wines, which have just a marketing spin on the back of them. There are some great wines coming from the US.


Oh I read labels! I’m just saying that every day it’s something else…


Wow! Thank you for the information.

Jo Diaz:

Yes, it is “something else every day” What I’m learning is the bigger they are, the less they care about humans, and only care about the bottom line. I now have credo: If they can afford to advertise, I can’t afford to put it into my body… That simple, Jill.


I like that:)

5 Responses to “Americans reacting to the lawsuit regarding high levels of arsenic in wine”

  1. […] post Americans reacting to the lawsuit regarding high levels of arsenic in wine appeared first on Wine […]

  2. Brigitte says:

    Someone needs to look more deeply into this…I can’t because I work in the industry for a very large company. What do these wineries have in common….low price point and commodity product…therefore to keep costs down you need suppliers that will sell you amendments and processing such as packaging and other items at relatively low cost which usually is compromised in some form. this includes packaging…wine bottles coming from Asia have a potential of having high levels of cadmium and lead…look at the supply chain….

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    Brigitte, the Wine Institute has put out the following, and I’ll put it onto my blog tomorrow morning. It certainly clarifies the study and puts it into proper perspective. It also belongs to this post, to clarify TODAY, since this post is “live.”

    Wine Institute Fact Sheet on Arsenic
    Mar 20, 2015
    Wine Institute is the association of 1,000 California wineries. In recent days, unfounded litigation has raised questions about the safety of California wine. We want to assure you that the health and safety of consumers is of the greatest importance to our wineries and that the wine produced by our members is perfectly safe.
    • The lawsuit claims that certain wines contain unsafe levels of arsenic based on the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for drinking water – 10 parts per billion (ppb). However there is no scientific basis for applying the EPA drinking water standard to wine.
    • The U.S. government has not published a limit for arsenic in wine but several countries including Canada, the EU, and Japan have set limits ranging from 100ppb up to 1000ppb – 10 to 100 times the level the EPA determined to be safe for drinking water.
    • When the U.S. government considers limits for arsenic in food and beverages, they take into account how much of that food or beverage an average person may consume in a day and the age of people who likely consume that food/beverage. Daily intake levels for water are significantly higher than for wine.
    • The risks from potential exposure to arsenic in wine are lower than the risks the EPA considers safe for drinking water. For perspective, eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is the recommended daily amount, whereas one to two 5-ounce glasses of wine a day is defined as moderate wine consumption according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
    • Arsenic is prevalent in the natural environment in air, soil and water and food. As an agricultural product, wines from throughout the world contain trace amounts of arsenic as do juices, vegetables, grains and other alcohol beverages and this is nothing new.
    • The U.S. government, both TTB and FDA as part of its Total Diet Study, regularly tests wines for harmful compounds including arsenic as does Canada and the European Union to ensure that wine is safe to consume.
    Contact: Communications@wineinstitute.org

  4. Hi Joe,
    Thank you so much for publishing the Wine Institute’s statement on the arsenic in wine. It is very important to keep things in perspective while the dust settles on this issue. I also appreciate your suggestion not to completely dis all American wines and your nod to small family vintners.

    There is not enough info yet to make broad claims. A couple more points for everyone to consider: Do European or other regions outside the US test for arsenic? Very suspicious that the tests on US wines were done by a company that is trying to market testing services for arsenic in wines – looks like a conflict of interest, especially since no independent studies have been done showing the same thing. If independent studies do show high levels of arsenic, it is going to be very important to learn from where the toxin is coming. Is it inexpensive bottles, or a feature or processing, or something else?

    We are one of those small family vintners, producing organic/biodynamically-grown, small-press wines. We use all the best practices and packaging, so are not likely to have this contaminant. But, I still don’t want inexpensive wines, as a whole, to be dismissed or defamed unnecessarily. Lets all keep calm and stay tuned – and informed.

    -Tracey Hawkins
    Hawk and Horse Vineyards

  5. Jo Diaz says:

    Excellent points, Tracey. Thanks for weighing in. There are no absolutes.

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