Is ethical wine, ethical?


Prompted by @bohoparadox to write about WIETA (Agricultural Ethical Trading Initiative which somehow anagrams down to WIETA) I made some calls. With the fabulous Olympic Fairtrade Stellenrust wines of Tertius Boshoff making the front page of the Sunday Times, I wondered why the 35 registered Fairtrade producers (representing 40-50 growers) should pay twice to be ethical.

ow 300x225 Is ethical wine, ethical?

Once to Fairtrade in London to register, then local auditing fees to check compliance and 2% of their wholesale price to Fairtrade SA for marketing, when they already pay the WOSA levy on exports.  This year, WOSA gifted WIETA R1.5 million plus the dubious services of their CEO as a director. A time consuming task which saw her duck the public criticisms of Johann Rupert at the Vinpro Information Day earlier this year via a conveniently clashing WIETA board meeting that fooled no one. Auditing does not come cheap at between R8 and R12k a day for WIETA plus travel and accommodation costs and various other add-ons like R1,400 for a SEDEX report, whatever that may be.

This year WOSA assigned over 4% of its budget to WIETA and producers like Distell (Nederburg, Place in the Sun), DGB, Spier, Van Loveren, Bovlei, Linton Park, African Terroir, Overhex, Uniwines, Thandi and Cape First who have chosen the Fairtrade route to market should request a refund of 4.34% of their WOSA levies.  In addition, WIETA should be billed for the services of Su Birch and other WOSA technical advisers at market related rates as WOSA already lives well beyond its financial means.

WIETA, Utz and Fairtrade = WUF Wines. Should SA producers throw this mutt a bone?  Ten questions for the ethical philosophers to debate in their caves or dance on the heads of their pins.

  1. Why should third world producers in Rawsonville fund ethical executives in London, not the cheapest office space on the planet?
  2. How ethical is WUF wine, exported in bulk and bottled in the UK, when by doing so, jobs are lost  in SA?
  3. How ethical is it for the IOC to buy Brazilian or SA and spend huge carbon miles in the process when European bulk lies across the Channel?  The Brazilian wine can’t even bark even though there is some Gamay Nouveau in the blend.
  4. How ethical is alcohol, per se? Can you have WUF cigarettes if you pay tobacco farm labour a fair wage?  What about WUF cocaine?
  5. Are screw caps ethical if they put peasant corkamorimcork Is ethical wine, ethical?
    by Amorim Cork
    farmers out of business and make the Iberian lynx extinct?
  6. How ethical is it for the IOC to sell Stellenrust Chenin at the equivalent of £19.20 a 750ml bottle and deny UK producers a commercial showcase when they are picking up the hefty Olympic bills via their tax?  Does Stellenrust Chenin really sell for £19.20 in Tesco’s?
  7. How can SA producers fund two competing ethical trade initiatives which will lead to consumer confusion, increased bureaucracy and sky-rocketing costs?
  8. Does the UK and its self-declared culture of binge drinking really need an Olympic wine?
  9. Can a non-organic wine ever be ethical?
  10. Can a product made from an alien invader species in the Cape fynbos biome ever be ethical?