New Zealand Winery Accused of Wine Fraud in Landmark Case
Southern Boundary Wines in Waipara, New Zealand, its vineyard manager and winemaker Scott Charles Berry, winemaker Rebecca Junell Cope, and operations and export manager Andrew Ronald Moore, have been charged with a litany of fraudulent actions by the Ministry of Primary Industries, including intentionally mislabeling wines as the wrong vintage, falsely identifying some wine's country of origin, destroying winery records, and blending wines from different vineyards. They face more than 150 charges altogether. This is the first case of its kind in the country under the Wine Act, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Naturally, officials in the country's food industry think the case could be damaging to New Zealand's reputation.
"A lot of the attraction of our food and beverage products is due to the country of origin. Something like this is very unhelpful," said Dieter Adam, chief executive of New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The fraudulent wines in question— sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, made between 2011 and 2013—were exported to the U.S., Thailand, Australia, Fiji, and Japan, but there is no risk to your health if you happen to have bought and drunk one of their wines. None of them are available for sale in New Zealand.
“The New Zealand wine industry is highly regarded around the world and we cannot let the alleged actions of one winery damage a reputation that we have all worked so hard to build", New Zealand Winegrowers acting CEO Jeffrey Clarke said in a statement.
New Zealand’s wine industry brought in about $1.6 billion for the country in 2016. Clarke claims that the fraudulent wine brewed up at this winery accounts for only a “tiny fraction” of the wine produced in New Zealand.
He also still believes in the integrity of the processes that screen wines in New Zealand, asserting that the fact that the team at Southern Boundary Wines got caught is evidence enough that their system works.