UKIAH and BENICIA --  Rivercap SA of Spain and Sparflex SA of France, which are major producers of beverage packaging, have agreed to merge their capsule operations for the wine and spirits industries, which includes the Rivercap distributorship in Benicia and the Sparflex capsule plant in Ukiah.

The two companies decided to combine their production capabilities to reach the cork-finished wine and spirits market, according to a statement from Rivercap USA President Jeremy Bell.

"The new group will create the critical mass necessary to address the demands of the current wine and spirits markets, particularly in terms of response time and innovation of high-end capsules," he said.

All production of polylaminate and PVC plastic capsules will be based in Ukiah, where Sparflex California opened a plant in August 2007. The starting production level of the plant was 200 million capsules annually.

Sparflex started in 1984 and focuses on making foils and wire hoods for sparkling wine houses. Rivercap launched in 1990, starting with solid tin capsules and expanding into aluminum screw and plastic cap capsules.

Cork Supply USA in Benicia will continue to distribute Rivercap products.

Top management of both companies are expected to stay in place after the merger.