At a time when so many small growers in Mendoza are struggling, how have 19 landowners and vineyard workers managed to meet unforeseen financial challenges? The group, unified under the name Viña de la Solidaridad, earned an extra $40,000 since it began participating in a fair-trade program intended to empower farmers in developing countries. Working with Bodega Furlotti, the growers earn a premium above market price by supplying grapes for fair-trade wine lines, including Neu Direction Malbec, which was picked up by retail giant Sam's Club. Best known for coffee, the fair-trade movement is taking hold in the U.S. wine market, with a tiny but growing presence among imports from Argentina, Chile and South Africa. Purchases by large companies such as Whole Foods Market, Target, Wal-Mart and American Airlines have helped give the category momentum. Wine Spectator's Dana Nigro explains.
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