I received a press release last week. It was titled:
MIGUEL TORRES IS SET TO BECOME THE FIRST MAJOR FAIRTRADE WINERY OF CHILE
Three things here:
One: I really am a fan of Miguel Torres and what he has achieved over the years. I'm a great fan of his current sustainability and green agendas and I have long been a fan of his wines out of Chile. I can't remember how often I've used his Santa Digna Rose in my wine classes.
Two: Is Chile about to get Fairtrade principles and its Sustainability principles either mixed up, confused or unnecessarily entwined?
Three: What's with the 'First Major Fairtrade Winery'? I'd have thought that Fairtrade principles are all about creating a level playing pitch. Not one where there are The Big Guys (read - important) and the Smaller Guys (read - we can beat you)
As it happens the headline was the result of a simple burst of enthusiasm based on the genuine happiness that Torres is now Fairtrade compliant. It's a bit like saying Cadbury's is now a major Fairtrade partner as compared to saying Cadbury's is the first major Fairtrade chocolate manufacturer! The headline is no longer the headline but the facts remain. Good news for Fairtrade? I hope so.
Chile has embarked on a major Sustainability programme for its wine trade. It will be certifiable and run according to Global reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines
Successful participants will be entitled to carry a banderol on their bottles telling the world that the wine in question has been produced according to recognised Sustainable practices. These cover the three major areas seen in this graphic from http://www.winesofchile.org/sustainability/
This is very much in response to the Swedish government insisting that all wine imports into Sweden must meet environmental and social traceability transparency guidelines by 2012. Assuming GRI is good enough then it's all good news so far. This year something like 70 wineries in Chile will submit a Sustainability statement. This will be in addition to their financial statements. In 2011 it must be noted that Vineyards areas ONLY are being reported. Winery and Community aspects of the code will follow later. Therefore wineries will not be fully compliant for Sweden by 2012.
Perhaps then there is some magic in this Torres declaration? Fairtrade will cover off their social compliance. Couple this with the broader wine trade's awareness of Torres' championing a very strong Green agenda with regards to environment - and this includes all of their wineries - see Barcelona Declaration of a few weeks ago and we begin to see a very rounded profile. We begin to see a man, and his company putting their money where many believe others should follow.
1. I hope Fairtrade, Sustainability and Green agendas, and all sorts of other things, get entangled and mixed up together. I hope they are all successful additions to the immediate future of the wine trade.
2. I hope that more governments, like the Swedish one, put producers under pressure to comply with basic accountability standards when it come to making claims on their bottles of wine.
3. I still likeTorres. It's a family thing.