NZ Winegrowers: ‘Industry badly let down by Yealands’ actions’

In a statement released yesterday, New Zealand Winegrowers stated that, “The industry has been badly let down by Yealands’ actions,” adding that it was “extremely concerned and deeply disappointed” by news that the Marlborough winery had been involved in serious historical breaches of the New Zealand Wine Act.

Peter Yealands has pleaded guilty to the charges

As reported by db yesterday, Yealands Estate has been fined NZ$400,000 after pleading guilty to five charges relating to the addition of sugar to wines destined for sale in the EU market.

The offences relate to false or misleading documentation for exports of six wines to Europe, from 2012 to 2015.

In addition to the Yealands winery company, the three people involved in the case are Yealands founder Peter Yealands; former general manager for winery operations, Jeff Fyfe and former chief winemaker Tamra Kelly.

All four were sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty to charges laid in the Blenheim District Court by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

New Zealand Winegrowers said that it has welcomed the prosecution by MPI as well as the guilty pleas from each of the defendants.

The industry body noted that the charges relate to false statements regarding export eligibility applications, and also material omissions in wine records relating to the use of winemaking adjustments in a way that did not meet EU market regulations.

But the organization also stressed that the offences do not relate to a food safety issue, commenting that all the wine involved was properly made, and safe to drink.

Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers John Clarke commented that any breach of the Wine Act is considered a serious matter and will not be tolerated.

“For the past thirty years, New Zealand’s wine industry has built an enviable reputation for high quality distinctive wines,“ he said. “This pursuit of quality and excellence has driven our export success,” he added.

Continuing, he said, “New Zealand Winegrowers will continue to promote transparent compliance with regulatory requirements, both here and overseas. This will be critical to protecting the industry’s reputation.”

Concluding, he stated, “The message for wineries is clear: follow the rules or you can expect enforcement to follow.”

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