Wine

In many large wine plantations in developing countries hired workers are not protected from labour abuses.

Below you can find out about:

Problems facing wine producers

With increasing trade liberalization, many of the smaller wine growers are unable to compete and are being put out of business.

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.

For vineyard workers in South Africa, the legacy of apartheid has meant limited opportunities for economic advancement. In addition to compliance with the basic Fairtrade standards, a special set of Fairtrade guidelines for South Africa has been implemented to support post-apartheid economic empowerment. These revolutionary programmes, in accordance with Fairtrade standards, mandate that previously disadvantaged workers can own shares of at least 25% of the business entity, for the first time providing land and business ownership opportunity to workers.

Small family farmers cultivating wine grapes in Argentina and Chile are susceptible to low market prices which do not generate enough income to meet their family’s basic needs. This limits their opportunity to invest in improving farming systems, lowers productivity and threatens their livelihood. Fairtrade certification helps farmers cover their costs of production and supports grape growers to maintain ownership of their farms against the pressure of large business competitors.

Benefits of Fairtrade for producers

Small farmers' cooperatives and plantations that produce Fairtrade certified wine and wine grapes are paid the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which aims to cover their average costs of sustainable production, or the market price, whichever is higher. They also receive the Fairtrade  Premium to invest in social and economic initiatives in their communities.

Wine and wine grapes are produced on plantations and on small farm cooperatives. For this reason, Fairtrade has established Standards for wine grapes production for both plantations and small farmer organizations.

Standards for wine plantations:

  • A Joint Body 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.

To find out more about the Fairtrade Standards for wine production, please download and read the full product Standard.

Fairtrade certified producers

To find out which wine producer organizations are currently Fairtrade certified, you can check the database available on the FLO-CERT website.

Buying and selling Fairtrade wine

If you want to find out what products are available in your country, visit the website of your national Fairtrade organization. If you’re interested in selling Fairtrade wine in your country, see our information about selling Fairtrade.

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