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Top 10 wine feuds of 2013

10. Ysios sues Calatrava over dodgy roof

In April Bodegas Ysios in Rioja announced it was suing world renowned architect Santiago Calatrava for €2m over problems with an “undulating” roof he designed for the firm in 2001.

While the silver roof mirrors pleasantly reflected the mountainous landscape of Rioja Alavesa behind the winery, Bodegas Ysios claimed the clever design was unable to keep the wind and rain out.

The winery’s owner, Domecq Bodegas, said the building had “seriously deteriorated” in the 12 years since it opened, with temperature changes causing fixtures to tear and aluminium parts coming loose in strong winds.

9. Duckhorn sues over Duck Commander Range

Controversy broke out between Napa Valley-based winery Duckhorn and Trinchero Family Estates over an alleged trademark infringement over its Duck Commander wine range.

The Duck Commander brand was created by Trinchero in collaboration with the Louisiana-based Robertson family, who found fame in US reality TV show Duck Dynasty.

Duckhorn wants Trinchero to stop using the Duck Commander name and duck icon on its labels and pay compensation for the damage it has caused to its brand.

8. Wine fraudster jailed for seven years for cheating victims out of £4.5m

Daniel Snelling was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for scamming “elderly and retired” victims out of £4.5m, in September 2013.

Together with his cousin and sister, Snelling tricked hundreds of people into investing in Australian and Italian wines through two scam investment wine companies, Nouveau World Wines and Finbow Wines Ltd

The scam brought in nearly £5m for the two companies while only spending a total of £474,000 on wine.

7. Police smash fake wine chicken farm

Chinese police smashed a fake wine ring masquerading as an abandoned chicken farm in Shandong in October, 2013.

The suspects were reportedly buying inexpensive bulk wine and placing it into bottles of the famous and expensive counterfeit brands they were selling.

Police raided the site confiscating supplies needed to make counterfeit wines including 18 production machine sets, 120,000 corks and 210,000 rolls of labels.

At least 16 people were arrested and more than 200 cases of fake wine were seized which were valued at more than 33 million yuan. (£3.3m)

6. Monks responsible for Buckfast tonic wine take police to court

January saw the Benedictine Monks of Buckfast Abbey in Devon take Strathclyde Police to court in a bid to stop anti-crime labels being stuck to bottles of their tonic wine.

The Strathclyde Police force had asked a number of off-licences and convenience stores and to apply small, round stickers to bottles allowing them to to track where a bottle is bought and if it was later involved in a crime.

According to police reports Buckfast was mentioned in 5,636 crime reports between 2006-2009.

Buckfast accused the police of “ethnic cleansing” arguing that the stickers would stigmatise the Buckfast brand.

5. Brewdog beers stolen in warehouse raid

Masked men broke into a warehouse stealing 16,000  of speciality BrewDog beer worth £32,000.

The raid took place at the warehouse of mail order company Ales By Mail in Billericay, Essex, in the early hours of Sunday, 29 December, 2013.

Four types of craft beer made by the Scottish brewers BrewDog were stolen in the raid including Moshi Moshi, Interstellar, Hobo Pop and Brixton Porter.

4. Prisoners sue beer and wine companies

Five US prison inmates launched legal action against a range of beer and wine companies claiming that alcohol was responsible for their crimes.

The $1billion lawsuit emerged in January 2013 with prisoners claiming drinks companies did not do enough to warn them about alcohol’s addictive properties.

Inmates claimed that they drank alcohol without knowing that they could become addicted.

3. Domaine Jacques Selosse burgled

Thieves made off with thousands of bottles of Champagne from Jacques Selosse in March 2013 in what was described as a “professional job”.

A team of burglars broke into the cellars of Anselme Selosse’s winery in the early hours making off with 3,700 bottles and using alcoholic sprays to eliminate any traces of DNA.

Of greater concern was that the thieves also made off with 16,000 labels and 12,000 neck collars.

2. $2.7million stolen from Californian wine bank

George Osumi, 64, ran Legend Cellars in Irvine between Jan 1, 2008 and June 21, 2012

Nearly $3m worth of wine was stolen from a Californian storage facility over five years after its manager systematically removed customers bottles and replaced them with cheaper brands.

George Osumi, 64, ran Legend Cellars in Irvine between January 1, 2008 and June 21, 2012 during which time Osumi stole thousands of bottles of wine from its customers, before reputedly auctioning the fine wine which was valued at $2.7m.

Osumi was jailed for six years in September 2013.

1. Wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan found guilty of $1million wine fraud

In December 2013 Rudy Kurniawan was found guilty on multiple counts of fraud worth over $1 million by a jury in New York.

Between 2004 and 2012 Kurniawan made thousands of bottles of fake wines which he sold for $1.3 before using the collateral to secure a loan of $3 million.

He was reported to have have sold 12,000 bottles at auction in 2006 alone.

The jury took less than two hours to find him guilty following a court case keenly watched by the wine world.

He is to be sentenced on 24 April and faces at least 20 years and up to 40 years in prison.

Six vintages destroyed by former employer of Gianfranco Soldera

And finally not forgetting the case of Brunello di Montalcino producer Gianfranco Soldera who had six vintages of Case Basse destroyed by former employer Andrea Di Gisi in December 2012. 

62,600 litres of Brunello were lost after the taps to the barrels were opened by Di Gisi who had entered the cellar by breaking a window.

Once inside, he opened the valves of 10 barrels, allowing wine from the last six vintages: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 to flow down the drain causing €10m worth of damage. 

Di Gisi was jailed for four years in March 2013. 

Despite the incident occurring at the tail end of 2012 we felt it was worth a mention.


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