Wine giants Australian Vintage and Constellation Brands are seeking informal clearance for a merger from Australia's competition regulator.

Australian Vintage said today (14 December) that it and Constellation have filed for informal merger clearance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC).

California-based Constellation said last month that it was considering merging part of its UK and Australian wine arms with Australian Vintage (AVL).

Constellation, which owns Hardys in Australia, would take a 50% non-controlling stake in the possible joint venture business, Australian Vintage said today.

The two wine firms have yet to sign a deal, but just-drinks understands that an announcement may come as soon as January.

Australia's wine industry is facing significant upheaval caused by oversupply. The country is producing between 20m and 40m cases more wine than it is selling annually, according to a report published this autumn.

"Transactions like this are what is needed for the [Australian] industry to return to sustainable production and returns," Australian Vintage chairman Ian Ferrier said last month.