Fairtrade’s Winds of Change in SA Wine Industry


Keep on learning in the wine industry, that’s me. That’s the industry.

Headed out to Breedekloof today. Rawsonville central. Warm and clear. Southerly breeze drifting from the, well, south.

Lesson for Today No 1 ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ How about this harvest? Ain’t it great! Ain’t it big and heavy, fruit hanging like the Garden of Eden on steroids. A few weeks ago things were ripening unevenly. Late. Inconsistent.

But now, farmers tell me, they are up on volumes?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+..up to 10 per cent up on predictions.

The comforting, reassuring sound of grape harvest machines reverberates throughout the valley. It’s a happy valley.

Brings me to Lesson No 2 ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ How great is it that there are so many Fairtrade farms in the Breedekloof?

Teamed-up with an Italian lady called Arianna Baldo. From northern Italy. Just a small village.

Arianna Baldo is working for Fairtrade. Fairtrade South Africa. Agricultural products certified Fairtrade are produced in accordance to international Fairtrade regulations.

Happy people. Involved with farming and delivering the products. Third World stuff. Coffee. Chocolate. Fruit. Tea. Wine.

Now, Breedekloof is probably South Africa’s leading Fairtrade wine region. And check this out: South Africa is the world’s numero uno producer of Fairtrade certified wines.

Why this is not being punted harder by the industry bodies, this is a question.

So there we were checking out what Fairtrade means for the workers on these wine farms.

Kids are looked after in spanking clean cr?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ëches. Fed, educated, stimulated, lots of time playing in the open air.

Housing includes DSTV, running water, gardens. Fairtrade workers on farms delivering grapes to uniWines Vineyards winery, major Fairtrade producer, also have their own 60ha spread of vineyard. Here they themselves farm Chenin Blanc, Shiras, Pinotage, etc. Selling the grapes to uniWines.

Each Fairtrade farm has a management body or worker representatives. Ideas flow. How to invest their profits back into their farms and communities? Identifying youngsters for education bursaries. Planning to get the most out of the Fairtrade concept they’ve bought into.

Pity. Such a pity, I think while walking around the region, feeling the proactive and positive attitudes. Seeing the hard work. The enthusiasm. The co-operation between farmers, wineries and workers.

Miles removed from that slanted report on South African farm workers from Human Rights Watch, which unfortunately saw it being supported by some local figures who see themselves as commentators on the South African wine industry. Same commentators who actually join the Cosatu strike against the use of labour brokers, but then each evening sip wines, 90% of which were produced with the help of said brokers. Who, incidentally, play a major role in creating jobs and providing vineyard help on a flexible basis.

Works the same throughout the world.

I digress. Unfounded pink liberalness has no place in today’s economy.

Back to Fairtrade, and the big question: does it help to have your brand connected to Fairtrade?

Check out the optimism among wineries who are Fairtrade registered. More and more wine importers are stipulating Fairtrade registration when sending out tender-documents. This year has seen huge tenders being won by South African Fairtrade producers.

And the recent Prowein international wine event in Germany saw more of the same.

It obviously is the way to go. Not the only way to go, but a bloody fine one.

Fair’s fair.

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4 thoughts on “Fairtrade’s Winds of Change in SA Wine Industry

  1. Does it help to have your brand connected to Fairtrade?

    We are a SA importer of quality consumable goods & wine chemicals from Europe and serving as a premium supplier to our wine producers of South Africa, how can our company get involved with Fairtrade and help contribute to the communities but also receive similar tenders from local producers registered as Fairtrade members. I would like to connect our brand/s or name to Fiartrade

  2. Fairtrade wines are like Pinotage, one wants to do your patriotic/moral duty and really, really like it, but that can be very difficult.
    Here a recent piece by Victoria Moore which reflects very well how divisive Fairtrade wines are among consumers like me.

  3. Watch this space , Chris. Things are really changing at Du Toitskloof concerning our Fairtrade wines. We are working on the quality now that we are no longer selling our Fairtrade wine via negotiants .By supporting South African Fairtrade wines you are ensuring a brighter future for the youth on Du Toitskloof farms.

  4. Hi Chris. Send me your address, happy to send you a couple of FT wines from us to enjoy. I read, and laugh at some of the comments to Victoria’s post. We produce and market affordable consumer driven wines and oh, by the way they are ethical as well. Don’t ask for special treatment at all! We are fortunate that we produce non FT and Fairtrade wines which these same consumers enjoy without even knowing it.

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