A Canterbury company and 3 individuals have been sentenced for charges related to fraudulently blending and mislabelling wine, then falsifying records to cover it up.

Southern Boundary Wines, its directors Scott Charles Berry and Andrew Ronald Moore, and its employee and winemaker Rebecca Junell Cope received their sentences at the Christchurch High Court in March after a long-running Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation.

The company received a $1.7 million fine. The court noted that the scale of the fine reflects the culpability of the offending and provides a deterrent effect.

Berry was sentenced to 10 months and 2 weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $25,000. Moore was sentenced to 2 months and 2 weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000. Cope was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work.

“This investigation began in earnest in 2014 when MPI inspectors visited Southern Boundary Wines’ facility and found a rubbish sack of winemaking records,” explained MPI’s director of compliance Gary Orr.

“By meticulously piecing together these records, as well as other documents and evidence, we were able to build a picture of offending which eventually led to a series of convictions and sentencing.”

Orr went on to explain that New Zealand’s wine industry has a well-earned reputation with importing countries because of the quality and integrity of its products.

“We need to keep it this way, and this prosecution sends a strong message that MPI will pursue this kind of offending, and where we have evidence, place it before the courts,” continued Orr.

“This matter was first brought to our attention by a now-former employee of Southern Boundary Wines. I’d like to acknowledge that person’s courage to come forward and expose significant offending. We’d encourage anyone else who has this kind of information to contact us on our hotline, 0800 00 83 33.”