On a warm summer evening this June, over 200 Fair Trade enthusiasts gathered in Washington DC to celebrate the U.S. launch of Stellar Organics’
Fair Trade Certified™ wine from South Africa. The event was co-hosted by SAIBL, the South African International Business Linkages program and guests included some of our allies in retail, non-profit organizations, government and, of course, the TransFair USA Board of Directors and Advisory Council.
Stellar Winery, north of Cape Town, was the first winery to gain Fair Trade Certification and has demonstrated exceptional commitment to environmental preservation. The care given to the land can be clearly tasted in their wines, as evidenced by the slew of awards and press articles praising their work. Not only was it an occasion to champion a company for its well-crafted wine, but it was also on occasion to acknowledge the impact that Fair Trade has had on South Africa’s agricultural community.
Attendees heard from several deeply moving speakers at the event, which included the South African Ambassador to the US, Welile Nhlapo; TransFair USA President & CEO, Paul Rice; and the Head of the Joint Body of Stellar Organics, Berty Jones. Jones told a touching story pulled from his own history, of rising from working as a concrete layer who couldn’t speak English, to now being the Head of the Joint Body and cellar master at Stellar. During his speech, Jones shared, “You cannot imagine what it is like for someone like me to come all this way to tell someone like you about the impact of Fair Trade and the difference that [it] is making.”
Stellar Winery has used the income generated by Fair Trade to provide health care, housing, electricity, clean water and education to the all of its workers and their families. They’ve even started an organic vegetable garden. Future earnings have been set aside to build a community center in the area and for the purchase of a bus to transport their workers. Jones’ story, and that of the entire winery, is truly an example of how the Fair Trade Certified model empowers farmers and workers around the world to improve life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
From left: Paul Rice, President & CEO of TransFair USA; Stephen Hayes, President & CEO of The Corporate Council on Africa; Berty Jones, Head of the Joint Body of Stellar Organics and cellar master; Welile Nhlapo, South African Ambassador to the United States; and Lerato Mataboge, Minister Counselor: Economic & Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa.
To see more photos from the event, check out our album on flickr