When association members are asked what the principal benefits of the project are, members often say highlight the social aspects – gathering of a group of similar people who help one another, share experiences, and who assemble for both meetings and – why not – social events like barbecues.

One of the wineries (Furlotti SA) is in charge of the harvest, sub-contracting legally a group of workers who receive a fair price for their baskets of grapes and providing the social contributions required by the law to workers working for more than 20 days straight, which is the average length of the harvest for these small producers. This way, the producers don’t have to look for staff or worry about the transportation of the harvested grapes, both of which become responsibility of the winery.

The winery then, during the moment when the grapes are received and paid for, shares part of the expenses with the association members.

Don Miguel Bordegnon
Don Miguel, 72 years old, married to Marta, 69, with whom he has five children and some grandchildren as well. Miguel loves his vineyard; wine has always been a part of his life.  He worked as a foreman at a winery for more than 40 years. His small vineyard, one of the smallest of Viñasol, is a garden where he not only grows bunches of grapes, but also cultivates love and faith.

Miguel heard about Viñasol and Bodega Furlotti through is brother Luis, who was a member from 2006 until his death in 2008. Miguel joined the group following the 2007 harvest.  In the past, Miguel delivered his grapes to a winery, charging the price in six quotas of uncertain dates, often reaching the final harvest without payment.  With this arrangement, he could neither save money nor cover the expenses of the vineyard; he could only wait for the moment when the cheques would arrive.

This is why, for the 2008 harvest, Marta and Miguel decided to fix up their trusty old vehicle.

“With the money we could do this, with the quota system we would never have been able to do so,” Marta said.

For her, being part of Viñasol has been “a reward for all of Miguel’s hard work.” Being part of a group of producers has been very important, she says, and they regularly attend training meetings, assemblies and social barbecues.

“We feel like we are approachable people; everybody greets us in the meetings, we can converse with them.”

This year, Miguel and Marta received Viñasol’s Prima, an annual sum of earnings that is the result of wine sales, which is returned to the association. They used these funds to cover some expenses they’d identified in interviews. How will they spend the money? In constructing new posts for their vines, which before they were unable to purchase enough of, and in ‘grass’ for their ‘tractor’- Miguel works his vines with his mule, which needs a lot of ‘fuel’. He also hopes to be able to purchase a few small Malbec plants to plant on his lot. This sum has been very important for their family’s economic situation, according to Marta, because they can not only cover the vineyard costs, but can use some savings for some health studies for Miguel, without having to wait for the eternally uncertain quota payments.

Marcela and Oscar Bordegnon have taken charge for a small lot of vines (less than 0.5 ha) following the death of Don Luis, who had received the Prima from Viñasol for medical treatments. Marcela is the one who does most of the work on the vines. The couple has five children between the ages of 5 and 20 years old. They decided to use the Prima to invest in posts and plants for their vines.

Don Alberto Moreno and Don Salvador Sanfilippo are the contractors of two vineyards owned by the same association member. Besides helping one another when needed, they have used the Prima funds to purchase goods like household appliances (washing machine, freezer, and other smaller appliances). It’s possible that in other parts of the world, people are born with these items. But in the case of these two families, the appliances that they had were old and very heavily-used. And now, for example, they will be able to wash the clothes they purchased with the Prima for all the Viñasol contractors and workers.

“In the end, they remembered us, the contractors,” Alberto’s wife said. “We’ll never forget this.”

Daniel and Don Ceferino Arce are father and son, and have been contractors of another association member’s vineyard since the 2009 harvest. After years of effort working the land, Don Ceferino bought a plot of land near the vineyard, achieving the dream of owning his own house. Even though his contract with the vine owners includes a home on the vineyard, once they retire, families like the Arces have no place to live. So, the father of the family has begun constructing the house.

Nevertheless, construction is very expensive. Daniel, who has a young family, also began to construct a home. The sum he received was used to purchase doors and windows, moving forward the possible finishing date. Like in many rural areas of Mendoza, the gas used for heating and cooking is purchased in gas tanks which come in various sizes. The tanks are more expensive than regular gas connections. The municipality has now connected this area to the gas network. But the pipes remained on the streets. Don Ceferino has used his Prima to bring the gas network to his lot. Thus, each of the four families that live there has access to a better quality of life.

Don Omar Algarañazes is a contractor on a vineyard owned by two brothers who are both members of Viñasol. Don Omar has spent his entire life working vines, from a very young age. He has a beautiful and strong family, which has always participated in the work (although not during childhood). Don Omar decided to use his part of the Prima to take care of his health. Even though he is a young man, he needed new eyeglasses and dental work, which until now he had been unable to take care of.

Don Antonio Torres and Don Osvaldo Acosta are very experienced contractors working the same vineyard. Don Osvaldo decided to leave his contract following the completion of the 2009 harvest cycle, and as decided by the Viñasol members in their General Assembly, he received his financial benefits and work clothing. With this money, Don Osvaldo purchased four prescriptions for eye glasses, to see close and far, for both him and his wife. He happily attended the final meeting of Viñasol wit his new eyeglasses.

Don Antonio has a lovely family, including his wife Rosa and three school-aged children. Antonio and his wife have both worked their entire lives. In certain circumstances, their children have also taken part in simple tasks on the vineyard. This couple used part of their Prima funds to give their children tools to help them grow into adults. They decided to pay for computer studies for their three children. When, along with all the association members, they were asked about their necessities, this family mentioned that their electrical bills were very high. This made its way to the Board of Directors of Viñasol, which came up with the idea of purchasing low-consumption light bulbs. Each member received five new bulbs.

Don Gerardo Gautier was the contractor of another member until the harvest of 2009. A man of a senior age, Don Gerardo decided to retire, and like the other cases, he received his Prima funds and put it towards the construction of his home.