La Riojana: star of the Argentinian wine sector
The impressive Famatina Valley in the heart of the Argentinian province of La Rioja is the home base of the nation’s largest wine cooperative. The 500 farming families that make up the cooperative produce a wide range of fair-trade wines. Including a large number of organic wines.
Since its humble beginnings in 1940 (!), La Riojana has grown to become one of Argentina’s top ten wine exporters. Their fair-trade wine is now found in stores across the globe.
The La Riojana cooperative unites 80% of the small to mid-sized wine producers in the region. This makes it a powerful motor for local sustainable development. Furthermore, it offers a great deal of employment opportunities both at its winery and at its bottling facility.
A number of large wine producers dominate the enormously competitive Argentinian wine sector. As a well-functioning cooperative, La Riojana found a way to hold its own among them. It ultimately cemented its position in the sector through the smart application of cooperative principles (info in Dutch).
Today La Riojana even has political influence. It’s committed to banishing the mining industry from the region so as to be rid of its negative impact on the local inhabitants and the environment.
Fair-trade wine: a boost for the whole region
The cooperative earns a significant sum from fair trade premiums (info in Dutch) each year thanks to its collaboration with fair-trade partners from across the globe. It uses this to fund projects that give the whole community a leg up (info in Dutch), and rightly so.
It has established water supplies and built an agricultural school and a cultural centre for the cooperative’s members and labourers. It’s also investing constantly in environmental protection and healthcare.
Most recently, La Riojana has built a large medical centre using the fair-trade premium. The 10,000 inhabitants of the region should be able to make use of this facility starting in 2021. For now they are referred to a travelling doctor who can only visit once a week.
Top-shelf wine: fair and organic
- In addition to discounts on vinicultural equipment, the farmers also receive significant technical support from the cooperative. Its agricultural expert visits the members at least four times a year. This way she can check in with them on the state of the vineyard and give the green light for harvesting.
- La Riojana has its own team of experienced oenologists under the expert leadership of Dr. Rodolfo Griguol. He is a master in torrontés and malbec, two of Argentina’s iconic grape varieties.
- La Riojana has been known to take home the occasional national or international wine prize. Belgian reviewers (info in Dutch) are also full of praise for its wines.
- La Riojana has been deeply involved in organic wine production (info in Dutch) since as far back as 1996. The cooperative seeks to double the area of its certified-organic vineyards and more and more wine growers are making the switch to organic each year.
La Riojana & Oxfam
Since the start of our collaboration in 2010, La Riojana has gained considerable ground in our wine selection. The formula for this success? A fantastic price-quality ratio and, most of all, the unique character of these wines (info in Dutch)!