While there are nuances to each model, a wine cooperative is an enterprise collectively owned by a region’s winegrowers—small, medium and large alike—for mutual benefit. Throughout time, co-ops have not only shared resources and acted in unison for the collective good, but they’ve offered a way to help outsiders access smaller growers and producers that may be unable to promote themselves or would otherwise go unnoticed. Though many have been known to yield compelling wine, they fly under the radar today. If you’re curious about the concept, read on for four historically significant, regional winegrower co-ops to try.
Grandes Vinos, Cariñena, Spain
Spread across the hot and rocky countryside of Aragon in Northeastern Spain, are more than 700 small grape growers. Many of these farmers couldn’t tend their old vine plots of Grenache (Garnacha) and Carignan (Cariñena) without the strength-in-numbers support achieved by joining their local cooperatives.
Grandes Vinos was formed in 1997 by several smaller regional co-operatives, which united through the help of government and public interest group funding. Today, five coops share risk and resources through Grandes Vinos management. The winery also provides precision farming guidance, as well as produces, markets and sells the wines.
The collaboration ultimately boosted the quality of Cariñena, allowing for a transition from bulk wine to bottled wines that would appeal to foreign markets. In other words, Grandes Vinos helped farming families go global by landing Cariñena wines on the tables and shelves of America’s restaurants and retail stores.