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Dutton disagrees with anti-sustainability movement link


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following email text below is reproduced in its entirety and without changes by permission of Steve Dutton.


Wine Industry Insight Publisher/Executive Editor Lewis Perdue’s emailed response: “News Fetch publishes opinions from all sides of a controversy. 

We have published many positive links on the program and will continue to do so. Having taught mass communication law at the university level, I do not believe the negative statements and opinions expressed by opponents rise to the legal level of defamation otherwise we would not have included the link.

September 10, 2018

TO:                         Lewis Perdue

FROM:                  Steve Dutton

RE:                          Repeated Slanderous Statements in Daily News Fetch


Though I am in the middle of harvest, I have been made aware that you have now published two hit pieces on Sonoma County’s sustainability program (The Dark Side of Sonoma’s Sustainability Movement) that have included slanderous statements about me and my farming operation yet neither you or the blog writer have ever bothered to contact me and ask if the allegation is true.


It is disappointing that you are printing the unsubstantiated writings of a conflicted blogger without checking the facts.


Here is the key fact — the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) added Mancozeb to its “Red List” at the end of 2016.  The listing and other requirements took effect in January 2017 and provided growers two years to transition and comply with the changes.  When I learned of the new listing from Sonoma County Winegrowers, Dutton Ranch immediately stopped using Mancozeb in April 2017.  End of story.


The blog writer goes so on to cite 2018 pesticide use reports apparently to suggest that I was still using the product even though my name and my business do not appear on any such reports after April 2017 when we stopped using it.   She makes a weak analogy about me no longer using Mancozeb comparing it to getting a ticket from the CHP as if to suggest using the product at that time violated the law.  It did not as Mancozeb was and remains a registered product legal to use.


In fact, what she is mocking is one of the strengths of our sustainability program.  Even though the product is legal to use, I discontinued its use immediately because I am actively involved in our sustainable winegrowing program and learned it was on the CSWA Red List.


Another concern is the author clearly has a bias against Sonoma County’s sustainability program given that she earns part of her income from the biodynamic industry.  In fact, in a recent bio she referred to herself as a consultant to Demeter USA, a certifier of Biodynamic farms and products in addition to being a consultant to biodynamic growers.  It simply is not in her best interest for Sonoma County’s sustainable efforts to succeed.  In fact, here is her bio as it appeared in the NapaVision document:


“Pam Strayer is a wine writer and consultant focused exclusively on wines from certified organic and Biodynamic vines.  She is in the process of publishing an ebook on organic and biodynamic wines in Napa and Sonoma counties. Based in Oakland, California, she has written for both consumer and industry press.  Her blog is Organic Wines Uncorked.  She is currently the Conference Program Director for Demeter USA’s first International Biodynamic Wine Conference, taking place May 6th & 7th in San Francisco.”


It is disappointing as a local grower and someone deeply involved in the Sonoma County community to have my reputation attacked with no regard for the facts.  By repeatedly promoting the author’s biased writings, my reputation has been slandered twice yet you or the author never bothered to reach out for my comment.  I realize you are not the editor of Organic News Uncorked but your newsletter is a popular read for many in the wine industry.  I would hope you would be aware of the motivations and conflicts of those who submit their writings before you post them.



Steve Dutton


Dutton Ranch Corp