Pick from a number of different South African wines by Stellar Organics — all fair trade and organic certified (no sulfites added). I got a Cabernet Sauvignon at the Santa Monica Whole Foods for $10.99 — which I thought was a pretty tasty bargain.
Curious about what makes these wines fair trade? Basically, Stellar Organics’ workers receive competitive wages, have part ownership of the company (at least 25 percent, according to TransFair USA, which provides fair trade certification for products in the U.S.) — with a say in making larger community decisions. You can read more about Stellar Organics’ the fair trade policies on the company’s own website.
Also available at Whole Foods are Fairhills wines, fair trade certified wines from South Africa, Argentina and Chile. According to Whole Foods’ Whole Story blog, the South African wines — that would be the chardonnay and the merlot — are working to go all organic in the next 2-3 years!
I didn’t know about this when I went shopping, though, and as luck would have it, went for the malbec and cabernet sauvignon — both from Argentina. These wines, at $13.99 a bottle, were just okay. I found the malbec too jammy for my taste — and both wines just had too much going on, IMHO. That said, people who like really big bold wines — Yellow Tail reds come to mind — will likely find these yummier. One reader of Bottoms Up really seems to like the malbec, though her description’s even more laconic than mine….
Whole Story has more notes on the Fairhills wines — as well as the fair trade details: “The Fairhills project is committee-driven, with 80% of the team farm workers, 10 percent importers and the remaining 10 percent winery owners. Together, they decide their fate in the wine business and, more importantly, the needs of their communities.”
As often comes up whenever I write about wine: Drinking local wine is great too! Local is not diametrically opposed to fair trade — especially if you buy fair trade wine at a local wine store. But if you’ve got the hankering for a malbec, or are curious about what South African wine tastes like, fair trade wines can be a nice treat. Anyone else tasted these wines a try?