NZ Winegrowers Media Statement - Southern Boundary Wines
Southern Boundary Wines Limited, former Directors Andrew Moore, Scott Berry and winemaker Rebecca Cope have been convicted and sentenced on historical serious offences involving deception under the Wine Act. Their actions showed a wilful disregard for compliance with recordkeeping requirements, including unrecorded blending of varieties and vintages.
The defendants were sentenced as follows:
- Southern Boundary Wines Limited was fined $1.7million. The company is in liquidation.
- Scott Berry was sentenced to home detention for a period of 10 months and 2 weeks. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 reparation.
- Andrew Moore was sentenced to home detention for a period of 2 months and 2 weeks. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 reparation.
- Rebecca Cope was sentenced to 200 hours community detention.
New Zealand Winegrowers is deeply disappointed by the actions of all defendants, and welcomes the convictions.
“The severity of the sentences handed down reflects the gravity of the offending, which falls well below the standards expected in the New Zealand wine industry.” said John Clarke, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.
“The premium reputation of the New Zealand wine industry has been built over many decades by our winemakers and growers. Any behaviour that puts this reputation at risk should not be tolerated, and we are pleased to see these convictions”.
The investigation and subsequent prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) came about as the result of a former employee of the company coming forward with information about these breaches.
New Zealand Winegrowers commends the brave actions of the former employee, and recognises that these circumstances placed them in a difficult position.
“It is the responsibility of all members within our industry to uphold legal and ethical standards, and we are grateful for this person for coming forward and raising concerns to unlawful behaviour and actions.”
It is important to note the offences do not relate to a food safety issue. There is no suggestion that the wine was unsafe to consume.
When consumers purchase New Zealand wine it is essential that they can have confidence that the label is accurate and truthful. Truthful labelling must be backed by accurate record keeping, as is required under the Wine Act 2003.
The Wine Act imposes a very detailed, rigorous record-keeping system that provides a very high level of protection to consumers, so consumers can continue to have confidence that New Zealand wine is a trusted product of the highest standards. This conviction is an example of our regulatory system working to ensure that standards are maintained.
“New Zealand Winegrowers will always promote transparent compliance with regulatory requirements, both here and overseas. This will be critical to protecting the future success of our industry.”