North Canterbury wine producer Southern Boundary Wines Limited is facing charges of wine fraud.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has laid a total of 156 charges against the company, its former directors Andrew Moore and Scott Berry, and winemaker Rebecca Cope, alleging breaches of the Wine Act and the Crimes Act.
The allegations include mislabelling of wine from Waipara and Marlborough vintages from 2012 and 2013 (the names of the brands and labels have been suppressed), and the falsification of records. Although the exact quantity of affected wines is not known, it is believed to be a small fraction of the national harvest in each of the two affected years and none of the wine is reportedly still available for sale.
New Zealand Winegrowers say it is important to note that this is a mislabelling and record-keeping issue rather than a health and safety issue – all wine sold was perfectly safe to consumers.
“We have been informed about the matter and the allegations and we know that MPI has been investigating carefully for some time,” says Jeffrey Clarke, New Zealand Winegrowers acting CEO.
“New Zealand wineries and grape growers are committed to the highest standards of product integrity and quality, and there are very good systems in place in New Zealand to ensure this. The investigation proves the systems in place work and it is appropriate that this matter is before the courts.”
The defendants will enter pleas to the charges on November 30.