The Moncaro Winery’s organic wines are among our best sellers. The winery is owned by an Italian co-op of small farmers. The Moncaro co-op formed to empower Italian farmers and free them from big land owners. Up until 1982, under the “mezzadria” system, farmers who cultivated somebody else’s land had to give half of the products to the owner. Most farmers owned a few acres of their own vineyards, which traditionally had been harvested to make wine at home. By banding together in a co-op, the farmers could instead sell their own grapes for a good price, working their own land and being paid fairly for their work.
Each farmer family in the co-op gets one vote, whether they own 1 hectare or 1000. (Most own 1 to 2 hectares, with an estimated 1,000 owners.) Each year, co-op owners sell all their grapes to the co-op, which is committed to buying them. Quality standards determine the price, which is higher than the market price. The owners elect a board to run the co-op.
Moncaro farmers have been cultivating organic grapes since 1980. The co-op works on innovative projects to help the environment in collaboration with the University of Ancona; current projects include studying new cultivation techniques (using seashell extracts in place of copper on the fields) and finding new production techniques to reduce the use of sulfites. They use an innovative system to recycle waste water and also recycle other materials, and use renewable energy at the winery. And they are certified as a socially responsible work environment.