Fair Trade Comes to Wine (by Dana Nigro)

Posted: May 13, 2013 by wynmaker in Cellars, Fairtrade, Farms, Labour, South Africa, Wine, Wineries, World wine news
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Global farmer-assistance program extends help to grapegrowers in Argentina, Chile and South Africa

When a small grapegrower in Argentina’s Luján de Cuyo district needed a kidney operation, his fellow farmers dipped into a shared fund to help pay for it. When another grower’s donkey died, the fund was tapped to buy him a new one. These 19 farmers, some of whom own as little as 3 acres, also invested in their vineyards, replaced roofs on their homes and provided supplies for the local school.

At a time when so many of their fellow small growers in Mendoza have been squeezed out, how did the landowners and vineyard workers, part of a group called Viña de la Solidaridad, manage all that? Viña de la Solidaridad had earned an extra $40,000 for these projects by participating in a fair-trade program, intended to fight poverty in developing nations, keep families on small farms and empower workers. Working with Bodega Furlotti, the growers earn a premium above-market price by supplying grapes for fair-trade wine lines, including Neu Direction Malbec, which was picked up by retail giant Sam’s Club.

“There was a real need from these communities for additional revenue to help improve their situation,” said Dave Leenay, executive vice president for sales for Prestige Wine Group, the U.S. importer instrumental in developing Neu Direction, along with Wandering Grape Merlot-Malbec, carried by Target. “And there was a need from the big corporations to talk about their commitment to helping be more sustainable and improving people’s lives.”

Best known for coffee, as well as bananas, tea and cocoa, the fair-trade movement is taking hold in the U.S. wine market, with a tiny but growing presence among imports from Argentina, Chile and South Africa. Purchases by large companies such as Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart and American Airlines have helped give the category momentum.

 

Read on …

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