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Warning to wine industry - fair trading breaches

Commission takes fair trading breaches seriously


Media Release

Issued 6 December 2002-03 /083

Warning to wine industry –

Commission takes fair trading breaches seriously

Brendon Thomas Meo, owner and director of Solstar Limited, has admitted breaching the Fair Trading Act in relation to misleading representations as to the place of origin of his wine.

Meo, in a settlement with the Commerce Commission, admitted breaching the Act over a period from November 2000 to May 2001, while trading as Solstone winery, near Masterton. The representations stopped after Meo sold the winery. The current owners took action to correct the misleading representations upon discovering them last year and the Commission is satisfied that the problem no longer exists.

A Commerce Commission investigation revealed that Meo sold wine over the specified timeframe under the Solstone 'Gisborne' Chardonnay label when it was in fact produced from grapes from the Marlborough region, and did not contain any grapes from Gisborne.

In addition, wine sold under the Solstone Estate Chardonnay label was also produced from grapes from the Marlborough region, and did not contain any grapes grown on the estate near Masterton.

Commerce Commission Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that in the Commission's view the breaches were serious not only because the behaviour was deliberate and showed a total disregard for the Fair Trading Act, but because it reflected badly on the wine industry as a whole. "Wineries need to ensure their labelling is accurate - not only regarding place of origin, but also in relation to varietal, vintage, and general representations made about their wine, especially in an environment in which regions and boutique wineries are developing their own character and branding", she said.


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