Fairtrade And La Riojana

Fairtrade is central to our company’s values

La Riojana co-operative is the largest producer of certified Fairtrade wine in the world, and we were Argentina’s first winery to be Fairtrade certified in 2006.

Since the very outset, our co-operative has always incorporated high ethical standards into our core values. 

We have always been and continue to remain strongly committed to operating in a way that is fair and offers an equal way of doing business for our members. 

These values are closely aligned to those of the Fairtrade movement and we feel proud that we were one of the first wineries to be certified Fairtrade in the world. 

The Fairtrade Premium is benefiting many of our growers, workers and their families, and is making a real difference to their lives. 

In recognition of our achievements in carrying out the best ethical practices, La Riojana was awarded the Drinks Business Green Awards Ethical Award in 2010. 

Our Fairtrade certification is very important to us primarily because the principles followed by Fairtrade are similar to those followed by our co-operative. The certification has enabled us to achieve social goals, which have greatly benefitted the community, our workers and members. The fact that we are Fairtrade and we have good quality wines has also allowed us to win over new markets and therefore increase in our exports.
— Mario Gonzalez, president, La Riojana co-operative

Making a real difference to people’s lives

Our winery and many of our co-operative growers are situated in the agriculturally rich La Rioja province, but there are many remote rural communities within the region which lacked basic needs such as access to regular clean drinking water, a good education and healthcare. 

Fairtrade was introduced to ensure a better deal for growers and workers, and it has enabled our co-operative to make a real difference to the quality of local people’s lives, by investing money raised through the Fairtrade Premium into local community projects. 

In 2013 we took a further step to show our commitment to Fairtrade by becoming certified as an organisation of small producers under the OPP (Organización de Pequeños Productores) scheme. 

This means at least half of our members have to be small-scale producers and at least half of the wine volume sold needs to come from these members. 

But it also requires us to use our Fairtrade Premium to invest in projects that benefit the economic and social development of our small producers. 

The OPP certification signifies 100% of La Riojana’s production and growers are Fairtrade certified, making us the largest producer of Fairtrade certified wines in the world. 

How we invest the Fairtrade Premium

We have been able to use money raised through the Fairtrade Premium scheme to invest in key healthcare, educational, social and community projects, not just benefiting our own members and workers but also the surrounding community. All the projects are approved democratically by the co-operative’s members and employees. 

To date, we have invested approximately ARS $15 million (Argentinean pesos) of Fairtrade Premium in over 30 different projects to benefit our members, workers and their families as well as our local communities. 

These projects include:

  • Education
  • Local Community Improvements 
  • Production Improvements
  • Healthcare
  • Socio-economic improvements
  • Administration & training

Among the many projects implemented to date, there are two projects that particularly stand out:

  • The Tilimuqui water project - which has brought a reliable supply of fresh drinking water for the first time to the local community of Tilimuqui where many of La RIojana’s workers and their families live. This project involved the building of a 160m deep well, a 100,000 litre reservoir and a 10,000 litre water storage tank built 8m high to provide enough pressure to serve the wider community.
  • The Tilimuqui school project - which funded the construction of the area’s first secondary school, therefore enabling teenage children in the area to stay in the community and has
    a current intake of over 400 children. 

Following the success of these two projects, construction of a new health clinic is due to start in 2016. The main aim of this project is to bring healthcare to 10,000 people living in the villages of Tilimuqui, Malliagasta and La Riojana’s wider communities. 

I believe that Fairtrade is very important to La Riojana because it allows us to expand our role in terms of social responsibility, it allows our workers who live in rural areas access to good standards of health and education, and also allows them to improve their general standard of living. The investment of the Fairtrade Premium in community projects, such as the water and school, has really incentivised our grape growers to work hard in their vineyards to obtain high quality grapes, therefore enabling us to produce high-end, market-competitive Fairtrade wines and to continue investing in projects which benefit the local communities.
— Rodolfo Griguol, chief winemaker, La Riojana co-operative