Bodegas Argento

Bodegas Argento. Plantation: Contractual work. [San Martín, Mendoza, Argentina]    

Multiply tr. v. (transitive: To add, one number or amount, to itself a specified number of times) / (intransitive: to increase in number)

Impact c. n.  A strong effect or impression / Cambridge dictionary: A powerful effect that something, especially something new, has on a situation or person/ 

“We don’t want sustainability to be confined in these walls […] the objectives of sustainable development are our benchmark […] and we want to contribute.” Andres, the sustainability officer at Bodegas Argento, explains the winery’s mission and he knows what he’s talking about. When speaking about sustainability there are three key dimensions: environmental, social and economic. The amount of work required to do this is no small thing but we all know it’s necessary.  

Bodegas Argento is making steady progress on that path—it is the largest organic winery in Argentina and it has now decided to set its focus on social sustainability. Bodegas Argento seeks to build a balance between its financial profits and the development of its workers and communities that live together on the 350 hectares of vineyards.

As a sustainability engineer for Andres, it’s all about the multiplier effect and achieving maximum impact. And since he started working for the company, he’s managed to find ways to make it happen.

The green plastic tapes wrapped around the pallets which are very difficult to recycle” and not often reused are now being sent along with the pallets to a prison. To manage waste, the interns in the prison’s workshop manufacture buckets which are then repurchased by Bodegas Argento who also pays for their work. It is the cycle—the multiplier effect—set in motion.

The cardboards and screwcaps are sent to a recycling cooperative. Then, there is a collaboration between Bodegas Argento and a cooperative in the design and purchase of packaging that will be used, for example, for gift boxes of an event that the company Bodegas Argento organizes for its employees. 

In the dining room of the winery, everyone has their lunch set: plate, cutlery and glass, that makes possible to reduce the use of disposable materials. The glass is manufactured from defective bottles of the cellar. Anything else? The following are bags to transport these sets, of course with reusable materials, designed and made in collaboration with a textile cooperative in the area. 

“These are tiny examples that show how far we can go.” And Andres shows that it’s possible.

And how does Fairtrade fit in here? It is the natural partner of the mission to achieve the “full” sustainability. Since day one, the Fairtrade certification and its approximately 300 practices in working and environmental conditions [Andrés Valero, Sustainability Officer]have started to generate change.

The dining room in the winery and on the farm are good examples. It’s one of the first things that newcomer Maggie [Magdalena Roge], an engineer in agronomy, noticed people eat well and in the same place (…) it’s the same food for all […] there is no discrimination, we are all equal”. In wineries, it is common to find many layers of hierarchy between workers and technicians but not here at Bodegas Argento. It changed my life”, adds Maggie, and the schedules are respected. And during periods like the harvest season, although we may work longer hours, overtime is paid,and that was never the case in the past”, explains Juan [ Lazzara, Farm Operator]. a].

Clearly, there have been a lot of improvements for the farms, and we are starting to work for the communities around the farms and for the wineries” Federico [Moi, Risk Management Officer]. Because along with labor and environmental practices comes the Fairtrade Premium[1]. A Premium that has already contributed to the multiplier effect. Today, it is being used to support three centers in the area surrounding the winery (Junín and Rivadavia), supplying essential materials that give children what they need to receive a quality education.

Seeing the Premium Committee’s vice-president Luis Urbani and the members of the RMT Civil Association, Emanuel Herrera, Luis Chiara and Juan Lazzara make donations to schools means witnessing social sustainability in the making.

The four, nervous as they go to school (two of them were students, and their children attend them), relate how they got in touch, understood their needs, and presented the project to the assembly. These schools, being in areas far from the large urban centers of the region, are forgotten by the public administration and have to find ways to give adequate attention to their students. Today, these schools become part of a system of sustainable development. 

Argento has set its focus on social sustainability. There is a return to the communities with the company’s workers supporting educational centers. And there is a return from the company to its workers: today, Emanuel Herrera, Juan Antonio Lazzare, Luis Urbani and Luis Chiara are proud to have become agents of change in their communities. Working with Bodegas Argento and Fairtrade in that process is taking part in this multiplier effect. One that can only grow and that can make sustainable businesses become tangible realities in places like the Municipality of Maipu in Mendoza (the largest wine region in Argentina) instead of just remaining objectives of Sustainable Development

Working with Bodegas Argento and Fairtrade in this process means taking part in this multiplier effect. An effect that can only grow. And one that can make sustainable businesses become tangible realities in places like the Municipality of Maipu in Mendoza (the largest wine region in Argentina) instead of just remaining objectives of Sustainable Development.

Talking about Fairtrade means speaking about sustainable development with its three fundamental pillars: social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The Fairtrade certificate has to deal with the challenges involved and wants to accompany the organizations pursuing this objective. 


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