Four wine co-ops in France's Midi-Pyrénées region have teamed up to form Vinovalie - some 600 growers cultivating 4,500 hectares of vineyards and producing 350,000 hectolitres of AOC and Vins de Pays wines a year.

Based north-west of Toulouse, the Caves Co-operatives, Técou, Fronton, Rabastens and Côtes d'Olt, have each invested EUR228,000 (US$296,000) in the venture. The Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council has matched the amount in the form of 15-year loans. Repayments on the loans have been deferred for five years.

"Grouping our activities, together with the financial backing from the regional authority, will give us a new dimension and allow the remodelling of our product range as well facilitating development on the international front," Olivier Cabirol, one of Vinovalie's founders and director of the Cave de Fronton, told just-drinks.

Cabirol said that Vinovalie would look to bolster its presence in key export markets, including the UK, Germany and the Benelux. Exports represent under 10% of Vinovalie's turnover of EUR40m, he added.