Cooperatives pool expertise and facilities to create unique structures. They provide their members with the means of production and management to make the most of their vineyards.
Their board of directors, whose role is to define the cooperative’s major strategic orientations, consists of winegrowers elected by their peers. This enables winegrowers to protect their interests, to obtain fair payment for their grapes, to make the most of their diverse terroirs, and to benefit from up-to-date technical means.
“Cooperatives are built on the principles of sharing, mutual assistance, and conviviality,” points out Producta Vignobles, a joint commercial entity for 17 cooperative cellars in Bordeaux and Southwest France. For instance, the inclusive economic model of the Vignerons de Puisseguin-Lussac-Saint-Émilion has improved working conditions as well as quality.
The cooperative movement deems it essential to help their members grow grapes in ways that respect the environment. Pioneers in this area, the 2,500 winegrowers belonging to Producta Vignobles seek “to sustainably produce wines representative of their terroir “. Like many other cooperatives, Producta has undergone profound changes. These started with sustainable viticulture in 2000 leading to Agriconfiance certification, the use of mating disruption to fight insect pests, and the introduction of 100% recyclable bottles. Ever since, Producta has offered a range of wines that are entirely organic and ecologically-friendly.
Environmentally responsible practices enhancing biodiversity, as well as reducing energy and water consumption, are also found at other cooperatives such as Uni-Médoc and the Vignerons de Puisseguin-Lussac-Saint-Émilion
Cooperative cellars are also establishing direct links with consumers, including wine tourism. The Cave de Rauzan offers a 5 km hiking path through the vines. The Vignerons de Tutiac, winners of a 2016 Best of Wine Tourism award, designed a concept unique in Bordeaux: recounting the story of wine from the vine to the glass, including a visit to their experimental vineyard to make the public aware of the importance of biodiversity.
This initiative was created out of a desire to offer an original and interactive activity that highlights efforts that affect every link in the wine producing chain.