Wine growers in the southern France Rivesaltes region will have to repay a portion of state aid paid by the French government during a sales crisis from 1996-2000.

The European Commission has ruled that money paid to growers who later sold their product as table wine rather than under the 'Rivesaltes' or 'Grand Roussillon' denominations was paid illegally and will be repaid, although Brussels is unsure of its value.

The aid should have promoted the appellation, the EC said. Portions of aid for reconverting vineyards covering more than 30% of costs - the equivalent of over €5,000 per hectare - would also have to be repaid, the Commission added.