Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Mar 12, 2024Madison Barefield0 comments

Fight exploitation in the Fruit & Wine Industry

Farming Freedom

As you sip your Chenin on picturesque farms have you considered all the lives involved in bringing that bottle into being?

As we've touched upon before, exploitation is embedded in all industries. Given the backdrop of apartheid's historical injustices and the unscrupulous labor practices within South Africa's fruit and wine sector, such as the infamous Dop System, these issues are hardly surprising. 

If you are unfamiliar, the Dop System is where where farm workers received inexpensive wine, or "dop," as a form of payment or in lieu of it.

employees on a wine farm are being exploited
Many workers, including migrants and seasonal labourers, face risks of deception, debt bondage, and physical abuse. The remote locations of some vineyards and orchards can make oversight challenging, exacerbating the problem.
Stronger Together also reports that farm workers are routinely paid below minimum wage and prevented from joining trade unions. Some are also not given protective clothing from pesticides, dignifying accommodation or access to clean drinking water.  


A Danish journalist also released a documentary where he interviewed farm labourers about their experience working on fruit and wine farms. We highly recommend watching that short 2 min video.  

Lady in her garden

All Hope Is Not Lost

Once we know better, we do better. It is overwhelming to realize how many of the things we love are tainted with exploitation, but we cannot let that paralyze us, there are always options and ways to advocate for a more fair world.

Here is a local Cape Town guide for Fair Trade Wineries. If you are in South Africa or America you can also shop Lubanzi which is a socially conscious, ethically wine producer!

When it comes to fruit, it is always best to shop as local as possible and support small scale, community farms. Here is a list of Grocer's from Good Food Network to help you find local, ethical produce near you!

As always, ask! When you are a wine farm, ask what the working conditions for the labourers are like, or what your waiters work experience is like. Listen to their stories and find out how you can use your purchasing power for good!

Two men enjoying a glass of good wine

We also HIGHLY recommend visiting Klein Goedrust in Franschoek. The owner is the son of a lifelong wine farm labourer. 

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