Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Could the Bergstrom fire have been caused by biodynamic treatments?

I was gutted to read about the fire at one of my favourite Oregon wineries, Bergström, that destroyed much of Josh Bergstrom's equipment and personal wine collection. It's good to know the local community has been rallying round according to this report in Wine Spectator but the wines are gone for good*.

There was an interesting hypothesis about the cause of the fire from the Dundee Fire District Chief John Stock who suggested, according to the Spectator report that "the combustion may have been a reaction between a leaking container of Stylet Oil, a mineral oil used to control pests and mildew, and copper hydroxide powder, which is used as a fungicide. Both products are commonly used in organic, biodynamic and sustainable viticulture."

I Googled Stylet and came across this report from the Texas A & M University Department of Entomology which specifies that you should not mix oils with sulphur or copper-based pesticides which suggests that might be the case and there are some pretty fearsome warnings about storage of copper sulphate in this datasheet from Santa Cruz Biotechnology including the tip-off that containers may burn. I'm no scientist but it sounds like something that those of you using biodynamic preparations should be aware of. Anyone able to shed any more light on this?

* His current releases and wine library are, fortunately, stored in another building.

Fire hazard symbol © Jehsomwang - Fotolia.com

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