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Drink well and support sustainable practices a continent away? Wine not!

Drink well and support sustainable practices a continent away? Wine not!

This Valentine’s Day, what says love more than drinking wine while supporting families, sustainable agriculture, and Fair Trade practices?

At the People’s Food Co-op in Rochester, you can do exactly that with a number of varietals of Fair Trade and cooperatively-produced La Riojana Wines from Argentina.

The wines come from the La Rioja Providence, a high desert area in the northwest part of Argentina where dry air and sandy ground create unique grapes. There, a cooperative of over 500 wine producers have worked together for a half century to grow and produce their products.

Most commerce in Argentina comes in and out of its capital, Buenos Aires’s. As a consequence, small towns like those where La Riojana wines come from can find themselves hard-pressed to cover even basic needs. Without a cooperative effort to move their products into the global market, “all of these towns would be disappearing in time,” says Gregorio Pezza, a representative for La Riojana. “This way, we can get the community growing and make it a sustainable process.”

Being a cooperative and Fair Trade certified ensures that producers get a fair return for their product. Part of the certification requires investment in infrastructure in their community, and the proceeds have already gone toward a water facility, and now funds are being directed toward a new school and a hospital. As with their local efforts to ensure customers are getting sustainability produced food by building relationships with farmers, People’s Food Co-op maintains relationships with cooperative representatives, like Pezza.

“Fair trade has no end point, so it’s a continuous process,” says Pezza.

It’s similar to why the wines are available exclusively to co-ops, with People’s Food Co-op being the only place in Minnesota to buy the wine.

Gregorio Pezza at the People’s Food Co-op in Rochester

Gregorio Pezza at the People’s Food Co-op in Rochester

So, this February 14th (or any other day for that matter), pair their world-famous Torrentes with fresh fish, their Cabernet with a sweetheart steak from the meat counter, or the Malbec Reserva with some Fair Trade chocolate — and feel good knowing your purchase made a difference.

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