A raid by Shanghai Police has uncovered over 50,000 bottles of fake wines including Penfolds and Bordeaux as well as known spirits and baijiu brands worth over RMB 200 million (US$31.1 million).
The Shanghai police broke up a massive inter-provincial bootleg ring and arrested more than 60 suspects operating from 19 workshops across eight different provinces, according to local news reports.
The operation nabbed over 50,000 bottles of fake wines, of which Australian wine giant Treasury Wine Estates’ flagship wine, Penfolds, and Bordeaux reds are among the counterfeited brands.
According to the police, this is also the first case of the year involving counterfeited Bordeaux, a geographically indicated (GI) wine region trademarked and protected in China.
The raid was carried out following a three-month investigation after police raised suspicion on an online shop in Shanghai that was selling a case of Penfolds worth RMB 3000 (US$465) at only one fifth of its price.
Examination by Penfolds team revealed inconsistencies in the wine label’s font and design, concluding these are indeed counterfeit products.
The shop owner surnamed Zhu was later found to have often sold fake wines alongside authentic bottles to give credibility to his sources, according to police. On his online shop, the fraudster even blatantly boasted wines’ authenticity and provenance to mislead consumers, the police said.
Further investigation of the shop led to two other key suspects supplying the counterfeit wines and spirits from Guangdong and wine-producing Shandong province in eastern China.
The Guangdong-based suspect surnamed Zhuang has been manufacturing fake wines through two of his own wine companies since 2021, bottling cheap bulk wines as branded goods. The wines are then sold to different distributors across the country, covering eight different provinces, says the police.
During the raid, the police also found over 1200 bottles of counterfeited Baijiu brands, over 3000 fake imported spirits and over 200,000 fake bottles and labels.
The case is still under investigation.