Founded in 1950, this co-operative is in the Cotes d'Auvergne appellation in central France, to the north of Languedoc-Roussillon and west of the Rhône. It is named after Saint-Verny, a popular figure in Auvergne who was canonised in the 15th century, and is the patron saint of winemakers.
This is the sole co-op in the Puy-de-Dôme département and offers excellent value for money. However, things haven't always been easy for the company, so much so that it nearly closed in late 1980s, but thankfully it was saved by investment from a specialist agricultural firm in 1991. Its new, modernised cellar was completed in 1993, with temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks rather than the traditional cement ones, and the co-op's destemming machine was the first in the region.
Winemaker Olivier Mignard has been at the helm since 1999. He instigated rigorous vineyard management, with yields restricted well below the maximum allowed levels, and under his management the growers frequently work together to share advice to ensure that quality levels are high.
There are 180 hectares of vines in total - almost half of the total vineyard area in the département - but these are managed by the co-op's 86 members, most of whom are only responsible for a couple of hectares of vines. This means the majority of grapes are still hand harvested, which keeps quality levels high.
The vines are on the region's sunny slopes of mineral-rich, volcanic, basalt soils. Hills protect the vines from the wind, as well as keeping rainfall to a minimum, and dry, sunny summers provide a long ripening season.
At 90 hectares, gamay makes up the majority of plantings, with 60 hectares of pinot noir, 30 hectares of chardonnay and 0.7 hectares of syrah. 63% of production is given to red wines, 25% to rosé and just 12% to white wine production. The reds are aged in French oak barrels, around 20% of which are renewed each year.