Wine has been socially and culturally significant to human society for thousands of years. Today there are many thousands of vineyards and wineries around the world producing a wide variety of uniquely flavourful wines. However, with increasing trade liberalization, many of the smaller wine growers are unable to compete and are being put out of business. On many large wine plantations in developing countries hired workers are not protected from labour abuses.
There are currently Fairtrade certified wine producer organizations in South Africa, Argentina and Chile. Just as each country produces its unique grape varieties and blends, producers in these three countries also face unique economic, social and political challenges.
- Each hectare of vineyard requires the equivalent of 221 working days, almost a full year of production
- A third of all wine consumed in Canada is domestic production and the rest is imported from abroad, particularly South America and Africa
Small farmers' co-operatives and plantations that produce Fair Trade certified wine and wine grapes are guaranteed a minimum price to cover the costs of sustainable production, as well as a premium to invest in social and economic initiatives in their communities. Wine and wine grapes are produced on plantations and on small farm co-operatives. For this reason, Fair Trade has established standards for wine grapes production for both plantations and small farmer organizations.
Standards for wine plantations:
- Fairtrade Premium Committee of workers, advisors and management is responsible for managing the Fairtrade Premium. The Premium must be used to improve the socio-economic situation of the workers, their families and communities.
- Forced labour and child labour of children under 15 years old is prohibited. Children aged 15 and above are protected from work that compromises their health or education.
- Workers have freedom of association and collective agreements, including the right to establish or join an independent union, elect advisors and design their own programs. Working conditions are equitable for all workers. Salaries must be equal to or higher than the regional average or minimum wage in effect. Health and safety measures must be established.
Fairtrade Standards for wine cooperatives:
- Producers are small family farms organized in cooperatives (or associations) which they own and govern democratically.
- Cooperatives reinvest the Fairtrade Premium into development projects according to their community’s needs, including infrastructure and social services.