Bodega Montlaiz

Organic Wines Montlaiz. [San Martín, Mendoza, Argentina].

Opportunity u. n. Favourable or advantageous conditions

Agent c. n. Substance that produces a particular effect or person who is the cause of something.

I always tell the kids that what happens in the streets is a reality and all we can do is try to change it,” says Mariano, managing director, and owner of the winery. Montlaiz is a small family winery with its particular energy. Mariano tells us about the current economic context in Argentina and its impact on people’s security and living conditions. 

With its three fully organic farms, a team in the vineyards, and a winery comprised of no more than 40 people, Montlaiz doesn’t aspire to sell more wine but wishes their wine to be increasingly better and for people’s lives and sustainability to be better too.” [Cecilia Famar, Bodega administration, and certification]. That is why they are betting on Fair Trade, horizontal leadership, and innovation while offering development opportunities to the young. 

When you get to the winery, the staff, not older than 35 years mostly, work swiftly around the site to get through the hectic harvest season. They want to make one thing clear: Montlaiz is like a family[Bruno Costa, winery operator], you get to see the process from up close (…) I’ve learned so much here, and that might not have been possible in a bigger company [Karen Rodríguez, chemistry technician].

You keep walking and come across the new building where the first wine grapes are crushed and vatted, with solar panels at the top contrast with the historic wine press, which dates back 100 years—a testimony of family heritage. 

When you come back to the administrative office, it’s like a beehive. The Premium Committee[1] members are busy preparing food parcels purchased with the COVID Relief Fund[2] granted by CLAC[3] and that they will soon be giving out to all of the organization’s staff. 

At the desk, oenologist Jose Manuel, who is absorbed in an Excel sheet full of last year’s harvest data, spares some of his time to tell us about the high-quality and organic wine. They constantly search for innovation and aim at meeting the needs of the new generation, Today’s new generations are looking for quality in their food, quality in their drinks… knowing where things come from. That is their commitment. He then proudly shows us some of his new projects. With the future in mind, their Criolla grapes and their bottles full of sweet and refreshing wines—all of which are organic—these projects are a reflection of their respect for tradition.

On the farm, you can witness the same kind of energy. Diego [farm manager] knows that for people to work with you and for us to be responsible, the company has to be responsible as far as the wages are concerned and reject undeclared work (…). I am sure of that, but in Argentina, it isn’t that easy. In any case, when faced with a challenge, he remains confident and commits himself responsibly. In the afternoon, he will try out a new machine to help grape pickers during harvest by decreasing the weight they have to carry, thanks to a platform on which they’ll be moving through the vineyards. A local engineer has built the new machine. 

But let’s not forget that this family finds itself in a complicated context. In Argentina, the wine industry is very competitive as it is a country in which large wineries dominate the market and where inflation makes the daily lives of workers and young people who wish to live with dignity very difficult.

That is why the impact of Fair Trade doesn’t go unnoticed. In Montlaiz, they are all convinced and committed. Bruno, who was elected President of the Premium Committee as soon as he got a foot in the organization, was elected President of the Premium Committee, is a good example. It is with pride that he tells us about the satisfaction that comes with being able to support his community, looking for ways to help the young, playing his part, and seeing his son learn about the importance of solidarity. Others recognize the Fairtrade Premium benefits—feeling the drive to get to work and seeing that work rewarded. The energy is contagious. 

The farm workers like Luis or Hugo describe how their working conditions are better than other farms. In the winery, Cecilia says that “the premium is there to cover basic needs. Despite the great challenge of inflation, health care and food aid are two of Premium’s relevant roles. 

It’s important to acknowledge that the journey isn’t easy. The Fairtrade Certificate has a clear impact: I believe that, as part of the company, Fair trade (…) gives you the tools to make people grow: as far as responsibility and honesty are concerned (…)”. But it is a rigorous certification (which is why it has results), and it involves the joint effort of this busy and hard-working family. 

Most importantly, Fairtrade and Montlaiz make a good team. Today they’re thinking about new projects they could carry out should the Premium amount increase thanks to the sale of Fairtrade-certified wine. They might be able to open funds for local entrepreneurs allowing them to launch their innovative projects. Once again, Montlaiz believes firmly in innovation, youth, and opportunities. 

Montlaiz and Fairtrade are working together to promote decent working conditions and fair conditions for the integration of young people into the labor market. The existence of the Premium Committee and the Premium itself reinforce this Project allowing the young and their communities to become agents of well-being and the future. 


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