Your Wine Is Toxic and Poisonous

I wonder how often the folks at Dry Farm Wines have had the opportunity to look winemakers in the face and tell them “your wine is poisonous”. Not take the cowardly route and state in Facebook ads that all wine but theirs is “toxic”. No. I wonder how many times the Dry Farm Wines people have had the courage to look a winemaker straight in the eye and tell them, “your wine is toxic”.

This is just one of the questions I have about the unethical form of sales I call “denigration marketing”. Dry Farm Wines, a wine club, has been pursuing this form of marketing for some time now, and particularly in ads on social media.

The claim being made by Dry Farm Wines in ad after ad after ad is this:

Do you know where your wine comes from? Toxic industrial wine farming is today’s standard. Only 5% of vineyards are organically farmed, which means the majority of the wine you are drinking is industrially farmed with sprays and pesticides. This is cheap, mass-produced factory wine. Dry Farm Wines is the only pure Natural Wine that goes above and beyond organic industry standards.

My first question is, what industry standards? My second question is what does “mass-produced” mean? My third question is do the people behind Dry Farm Wines know the meaning of the word “Toxic”? I do. I looked it up:

TOXIC: tox·ic  /ˈtäksik/



2. very harmful or unpleasant in a pervasive or insidious way

The reason you don’t see this kind of marketing used very often is that it’s incredibly cowardly and unethical. What I’d like to see is Dry Farm Wines stand up and list 100 wines made in California or France or Oregon or Germany and NAME THE NAMES OF BRANDS THAT MAKE TOXIC WINES.

But they won’t do this. They won’t do it for a couple reasons. First, they are cowards. Second, they would be sued to high heaven and Dry Farm Wines would go away. And the reason no one at Dry Farm Wines has never looked a winemaker in the face and told them their wine is poisonous is that they don’t fancy the idea of by slugged in the face by someone willing to make their feelings known in a face to face fashion.

Denigration marketing is bad for the wine industry. It gives the impression that the wine industry can’t be trusted; that the makers of wine have no integrity; that they don’t care about the environment; that they don’t care about their customers. None of this is true. But say it over and over again like Dry Farm Wines does and people start to believe it.

It would be one thing if Dry Farm Wines was making these kinds of claims in the context of a conference or at a wine event. But in this case, they are making these vile claims in the service of lining their pockets. It’s the same sort of thing the champions of natural wine often did when the category was just emerging. It was unethical then, and it’s unethical now.

By the way and for the record, if Dry Farm Wines was correct in their claim about most wine being poisonous, we’d have millions of people dropping dead or heading to the hospital. And we don’t. Still, they make the claim.

It’s not uncommon to use the fears of the consumers to sell products. In fact, it’s a commonplace occurrence. But this is more than that. 

It’s a very sad act. 


13 Responses

  1. Liz Holtzclaw - August 15, 2021

    They won’t ever name specific competitors because it’s prohibited in Title 27 Part 4 Advertising. 4.64 Prohibited Practices (a)(2) Any statement that is disparaging of a competitor’s products.

  2. Tom wark - August 15, 2021

    There are numerous venues in which they could name names, not violate any laws and not be cowards.

  3. Fre - August 15, 2021

    Totally agree with your comments. Plus, it drives me bat shit crazy when it is implied that “organic wines” aren’t sprayed or get “pesticides”, when in fact they are and often receive more sprays/pesticides than conventional vineyards because of less effectiveness of the organic pesticides. A short list of organic pesticides would could include nicotine sulfate, strychnine, arsenic, copper sulfate, pyrethrum, rotenone, sulfur etc. Many of these are more toxic than conventional materials (and many are more toxic to the environment as well).
    A gripe for you Tom, is that you continue to use the term “beverage alcohol” for all products that have alcohol in them. We don’t produce “beverage alcohol”, we are winegrowers that produce wines that contain alcohol. Though you will get buzzed if you drink enough wine I don’t believe most people are drinking our wines for the alcohol…….

  4. John Skupny - August 15, 2021

    How I have always viewed this producer and other of their ilk –

  5. Jim Ruxin - August 15, 2021

    This thread is really abut the toxic streak in the character of American business. Cheap ethics, ;lacking all intellectual honesty, such as that found in climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, Covid hoaxers, and most importantly, craven self interest is behind this claim.

    As a society, we have become this at the bottopm of the slippery sloppe of free speech and free markets, and anti-regulation libertarians.

    We seem to permit people to run away from concepts like civic mindedness, our obligation to others, do no harm, intellectual honesty, and basic decency.

    Let’s hope wine consumers can see this as something as evil as snake oil, and ignore the pitch.

  6. Donn Rutkoff - August 15, 2021

    A reply to Jim Ruxin. The article is about badmouthing everybody elses wine, advertising with absolutely no facts. You have lumped this furshlugginer wine brand in with all your own political leanings. But you missed “people who kick their dogs” and “people who watch Gilligan’s Island reruns”, both categories are people who we hate. Right? (Can’t even stick to the topic, I guess)

  7. Phillip Anderson - August 16, 2021

    In interviews & their marketing they continue to list Santorini as an example of dry farming being possible with 4-10 inches of rain, but if you look up Santorini rain fall, you will see that they get almost 22 inches a year.

    That’s not as bad as calling other producer’s wine toxic, but it is annoying because it is blatantly untrue.

  8. Oded Shakked - August 17, 2021

    Tom, of course you are right to bring this up and all the comments posted are to the point, more or less. But, come on… are we really surprised? Denigration marketing has been with us since the dawn of times. Some of our most successful religions expanded their base using this effective tool. I have claimed for a while that “Green” is the new religion of our times. I get five or six hits on my winery blog when I post something about related issues but thousands of hits when I post a picture of my puppy.

  9. Tom wark - August 17, 2021


    Puppy blogging is underrated.

  10. Robert Behlendorf - August 17, 2021

    Little did I realize many eons ago when I drank my first bottle that I would be forever poisoning myself. That was 1967. Charles Krug red blend. Always remember. Fast forward 54 years. I guess thousands of bottles later, I have developed “toxic immunity”. Still crankin’. Still happy with my “toxic reds”. Forever hooked. Get a life, you tree-huggers. Without some toxicity, there would be little to eat, none to enjoy. If God and intended total non-toxicity, he would not have created deadly nightshade or oleander. Mull it over. If organic is your thing, pay the premium and enjoy. I will be on the other side of the fence, happy with my Gallo Hearty Burgundy for the remainder of my “toxic” drinking days. Be well my friends and dream on. There is more to life.

  11. Paul Vandenberg - August 17, 2021

    I too deplore the marketing program of Dry Farm.

    We are the second winery to ingredient label wines once Ridge got it pushed through. We also label any pesticides used, it’s been zero since 2013.

    We have used nothing in our vineyard except water, compost, sweat. Yes sulfur is a pesticide.

    Are our wines free of pesticide residues? No. No place or organism on Earth has avoided picking up pesticides from the environment.

    Since we have had less than 8 inches of precipitation every year since 2003 we don’t dry farm.

    We make a couple of wines that have residual sugar, it’s fruit after all.

    I applaud every producer that signs up for a sustainable, organic, or biodynamic certification. It’s a step in the right direction. I’m a critic of all these programs, even the two I’m involved in, WSDA Organic and Real Organic. It doesn’t mean they are without value, it means I think we could improve.

    We don’t do this out of fear, we do it for love. We have a beautiful place on this beautiful planet and I want to do my best to leave our little farm better than we got it.

    Paul Vandenberg
    Paradisos del Sol Winery and Organic Vineyard

  12. CM - August 23, 2021

    You should see Todd White’s (Forbes calls him the ‘bio-hacker and founder of Dry Farm Wines) appearance on TheMove as a sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s coverage of the Tour de France. See YouTube for TheMove Tour de France Stage 13 2021 at 39:30 for more of his drivel.

  13. Paul Vandenberg - August 23, 2021

    I call it lies. I’ve been ingredient labeling for years, including pesticides used, none. I could rant further.
    Love to debate him in public.

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