Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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co-operatives, ventures owned jointly by a number of different members, are extremely important as wine producers and have the advantage for their members of pooling winemaking and marketing resources and costs. Collectively, they usually have access to a broad range of financial advantages over individual producers, particularly subsidies in the eu, although these have been declining. In most countries they also enjoy the commercial advantage of being able to describe their wines as bottled by the producer, using such reassuring phrases as mis(e) en bouteille à la propriété and erzeugerabfüllung more usually associated with much smaller, individually managed wine enterprises. The better co-operatives are becoming increasingly skilled not just at winemaking but also at marketing specific bottlings designed to look and taste every bit as distinctive as the individually produced competition. The worst co-operatives play almost exclusively with subsidies and politics. Co-operatives are at their strongest in areas where wine’s selling price is relatively low and where the average size of individual holdings is small, although co-operatives are also quite significant in champagne and there are several in the médoc, for example. The majority of wine co-operatives were formed in the early 1930s in the immediate aftermath of the Depression.