Canada's first wine-making cooperative has entered receivership, facing almost CAD40m (US$40.2m) in debts, according to court documents.

Southern Ontario's Niagara Vintners was forced into the hands of receivers Deloitte & Touche Inc by the cooperative's Bank of Nova Scotia. The receiver is now selling the business's winemaking plant, shop, 3.6m litres of bulk wine and 21,000 cases of bottled wine.

In a statement to the cooperative's local newspaper, the St Catherines Standard, David Wiley, one of 19 growers who formed Niagara Vintners, said the business had been launched in 2004 "with the best of intentions". However although "the winery created was a successful brand", its 20 Bees wines, "the winery has failed financially," Wiley wrote. Later, he told the newspaper's journalists: "We just owed too much money."

The cooperative expanded quickly, producing 30,000 cases of wine in its first year. However, sales were scarcer. Wiley accused the Liquor Control Board of Ontario provincial retail monopoly of failing to promote its wines: "We may have naively assumed the provincial government would be more supportive," he said.