Co-op to Co-op Trade
What if you could get a great wine at a fantastic price and know that your purchase goes to support a small producer co-op? You can do that when you purchase La Riojana wines from our sister co-op in Argentina. As soon as you try them, you’ll know that these are terrific wines. The Riojana Malbec is one of the best entry-level Malbecs we have tasted. It offers lots of dark fruit, subtle complexities, and a smooth round finish—everything we look for in a Malbec. The Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Malbec blend are all of equal quality and taste. The most pleasant surprise about these wines is their price—only $6.99/bottle, half as much as you might pay for similar wines elsewhere. Taste them for yourself at the Co-op Fair on September 20 or at our wine shows in October.
La Riojana is a wine co-op in northwest Argentina that has over 500 members, the majority of whom are small-scale farmers with less than seven acres of land each. The region in which most of the co-op’s farmers live is remote and historically a rural and poor part of the country. Through its Fair Trade projects, La Riojana has greatly improved living conditions by developing a water system, a secondary school, and a hospital, among other projects. The co-op is also working on creating sustainable villages with solar power and organic farms. Although La Riojana sells a lot of wine in Europe, it has yet to break into the US market in a significant way. Weaver Street Market has been instrumental in connecting La Riojana with co-ops across the US.
The Riojana wines are certified by Fairtrade International (FLO). A contribution on your behalf of $2 per case is included in the price to help fund La Riojana’s community programs. Initially, that money will be split between a hospital construction project and organic certification for the farms. The members are farming organically but have not yet gone through the process of getting certified, which is expensive for small family farms. Part of our $2 per case contribution will be used to help them gain organic certification. In the meantime, we will have a letter from La Riojana stating that they use organic practices.
La Riojana wine is such a good value because we order directly from the producer. The retail price of a typical imported wine includes a minimum importer margin of 30% and minimum distributor margin of 30%. Co-op to co-op trade fills this middleman role with a single 23% margin by buying direct and working with a local distributor who also serves as the importer. This is a pilot program. Once we get the network set up, La Riojana is interested in selling us “reserve” wines—a premium label wine with a $20 value that we can retail for $10. If successful, the program will be expanded to import wines from co-ops in Europe.
To find out more about La Riojana, visit their website: http://www.lariojanawines.com