Wine… Fair Trade Certified?

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Here’s my challenge to all of those wine enthusiasts out there: take a look at this list on the bottom right-hand corner of Fair Trade USA’s website and promise to try at least one of these fair-trade wine labels. You may be astonished to find out that Sam’s Club and Target are two fair-trade wine vendors.

I know, it came as a surprise to me too, but fair trade wine does exist. In all honesty, it never occurred to me to look out for the fair trade logo when I went to the store; with all of the talk about links between food security and equitable commerce, wine just wasn’t in the picture. Between Green Mountain Coffee’s long list of fair trade coffee and countless Ben & Jerry’s ice creams featuring fair trade chocolate, it’s very easy to misconceive that chocolate and coffee are the only fair trade items out there. Although it’s admittedly more difficult to find the label on clothes or spices and herbs, there’s actually quite a variety of fair trade items.

So, why did I choose to talk about wine?

SAM_1622Well, in the past I’ve always said that coffee is one of the most advantageous avenues where social equality, food and the environment can intertwine. I still hold true to that statement- the number of fair trade coffees on the market are certainly higher than other products- but my recent year abroad in Burgundy, France, taught me to appreciate the relationship between culture and wine. Fabricating wine is an art and a passion; drinking wine is a tradition, privilege and right that extends back to the Neolithic period. In France, wine-making is still very visibly esteemed. I had the wonderful opportunity to bike-ride through vineyards from Dijon to Beaune right before heading home last May, and the mere fact that individuals can freely cross through these paths said a lot about the universal respect between consumers and winemakers. 

So coming back to the United States, I became more interested in purchasing wine. Though I grew up just an hour and a half from the Long Island Vineyards on the east end, it was pretty clear just from reading labels in the store that people have a more international taste in wine than, perhaps, other products. If we’re going to continue importing wine from around the world, why not make sure that it’s produced and purchased with the same respect found in France, in Italy, out on the east end of Long Island? Is this something we possibly overlooked as a lucrative path in the movement for global fair trade?

To your health and the health of those that made your wine- santé!

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