Wine Buyer Beware in China

If you’re planning a visit to China, be aware that the Australian wine you buy in a wine shop or order in a restaurant many not be Australian at all.

We reported a few days ago that a former Australian wine broker was busted for selling Chardonnay juice that was really only about 20 percent Chardonnay, watered down with a much less expensive and lower quality grape variety.

Now comes word that Chinese counterfeiters are bottling “knock-offs” of well-known Australian wine brands, putting who-knows-what in the bottle and then adding a label claiming the wine is from a known Aussie wine estate.

Among the well-known brands known to have been counterfeited is Penfolds – Australia’s most famous and prestigious.

Emanuel Skorpos of the Flinders Run winery says he traveled to China recently and found a wine shop selling his Merlot. He says he was told by the shopkeeper that other wines were available under the brand, and that they could be procured in large quantities.

Skorpos understandably fears that the scam could tarnish his winery’s brand and reputation, but he also worries that it could do great harm to the Australian wine industry in general, already hit hard by drought, wild fires and overproduction in recent years.

It also has been reported that a wine labeled “Benfolds,” greatly resembling the Penfolds label, had been seen at trade fair in China. Penfolds’ intellectual property attorney is investigating.

(Note: Editor Robert Johnson is on assignment. His Editor’s Journal column will return next Monday.)

Posted in The Wine Business
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