Wines for people and planet

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013
Myrna Robins, iol
Cape Town - A proverbial drop in the wine lake? Perhaps, but Fairtrade drops produce pleasing statistics and positive news, welcome counterpoints to an industry battling on several fronts.
On March 3, the annual Fairtrade awareness campaign drew to a close after a week of seminars, launches and promotions in which celebrity chef Reuben Riffel took part as a brand ambassador.

This global ethical certification system promotes equality and sustainability in the agricultural sector, which, in practical terms, raises funds to improve labour and living conditions in farming communities, while promoting agricultural practices that don’t harm people or the environment.

Wine and coffee are two Fairtrade products that have attracted South African consumers, as well as many in the hospitality industry, who have switched to these brands, resulting in sales trebling year on year to reach a predicted R250-million in 2013.

As the world’s largest producer of Fairtrade wine, let’s take a closer look at one of them – uniWines in Rawsonville. The company incorporates three cellars – Daschbosch, Groot Eiland and Nuwehoop – all of which contribute decades of expertise, pressing some 45 000 tons of grapes annually from 50 farmers. Just two of these are certified Fairtrade growers from which the Palesa wines are produced, amounting to 15 percent of their annual production of 35 million litres.

Writer Andreas Spath visited those two farms, talking to the workers who presented evidence of benefits reaped from their portion of the Fairtrade Development Premium. They are assured of a prescribed minimum salary, and have elected committees which meet monthly to decide how funds should be used.

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