Beware wine drinkers: Bootleggers could be ripping you off with fake wine
Counterfeit bottles of red wine were uncovered in the Cape this week
With the wine industry already under siege with the third alcohol ban in place, it now seems that wine farms have another challenge to contend with: forgers selling counterfeit wine on the black market.
This week Bot River wine farm, Gabriëlskloof, posted to social media warning consumers about counterfeit bottles of Syrah circulating in the Cape Town area. A tip-off from a consumer on email alerted the team at the farm to the fake bottle, clearly in different packaging and with a label that is very similar to Gabriëlskloof’s.
Food24 spoke to Grant Baxter, Head of Sales and Marketing at Gabriëlskloof about what has been a hard week for his team.
“It is incredibly frustrating for us as a brand to discover that someone is selling inferior wine under our label. It takes decades for a brand like Gabriëlskloof to earn trust and respect from wine lovers – and in one moment it can all be undone.”
“The wine industry as a whole is working under incredible strain at this time. Whoever is responsible for these forgeries: they are damaging the industry and value chain in ways that they cannot imagine”, Baxter said.
It is common knowledge that wine sales continue in the black market, despite government regulations prohibiting the sale and transportation of alcohol under adjusted Level-3 Covid-19 regulations.
Business Insider has reported extensively on the booming underground trade of alcohol, and these developments are just another blow to an already haemorrhaging industry.
The counterfeiting of rare and fine wines is common on the international market, as forgers stand to gain big payoffs for selling fakes of expensive wines. In 2012, the FBI successfully prosecuted Rudy Kurniawan who is now serving 10 years in a California prison. The swindle has been made into a documentary, Sour Grapes, but now it seems that the practice has reached South Africa.
Consumers are particularly vulnerable in a black market, with no recourse available to them should their purchases prove to be fakes. Baxter has informed Food24 that their investigation continues and urges anyone who has come across counterfeit wines to contact the farm directly.
The regulations remain in place, and we encourage wine drinkers and collectors to order directly online with wine farms to support their operations during this time. Deliveries will be fulfilled once the regulations are changed and the alcohol ban is lifted, which is expected to be mid-February 2021.