La Riojana Winery is a wine cooperative in the Famatina Valley in Argentina. It began in 1940 with Italian immigrants who both planted vineyards and bought grapes to make wine. It now includes 500 growers, most of whom are small-scale, rural farmers, and produces around four million cases of wine per year.
Being a member of the cooperative provides growers with benefits and services, including the guaranteed purchase of grapes at higher-than-market prices, transportation of grapes from the vineyard to the cooperative, free technical assistance, group purchasing of supplies to keep costs down, collective frost insurance, and access to an emergency fund. Since 2006, the wines have been certified fair trade. In addition to fair prices, the growers benefit from a premium received from the sale of La Riojana wines that is used for social and economic development projects in the community. Projects completed so far include a new secondary school and water infrastructure in the remote village of Tilimuqui (watch a video here); computer rooms, equipment, and free IT courses; back-to-school kits for the children and grandchildren of members and workers; solar power in villages; and medical equipment and medicines to local first aid centers. Current projects include a hospital and organic certification for farms.
Although the vineyards are not certified yet, they are farmed organically, and the cooperative is committed to sustainability and works to promote sustainable practices within the winery and vineyards and with growers. They’ve had a carbon footprint audit and are working to be carbon neutral.
Weaver Street Market works directly with La Riojana, which enables us to offer high quality bottles of wine at half the usual price while still paying fair trade prices and premiums to the winery and the grape growers.
Learn more at http://www.lariojanawines.com/. Watch a video of Walter Carol from the winery presenting a training session for our staff, below.