China’s eastern Jiangsu province has dismantled what the policed described as a “mega cross regional” fake wine production ring, seizing over 8,000 bottles of counterfeit Penfolds worth over RMB 10 million (US$1.6 million).
Although China’s crushing tariffs on Australia’s most famous wine brand Penfolds has slowed down its exports to its most profitable market, knockoffs are still thriving.
The fake wine manufacturing and selling network was uncovered after one customer reported a suspicious Penfolds Bin 407 bought from an online shop for RMB 699(US$110). The customer noted its “poor taste” and the price disparity of the same wine sold through official channel, which retails at least RMB 1,000 per bottle.
An initial police investigation with Penfolds team identified that the wine’s packaging, logo and workmanship are inconsistent with Penfolds products, and that Penfolds did not authorize the online shop to produce and sell goods with the Penfolds registered trademark.
What’s more alarming is that over RMB 80 million (US$12.6 million) worth of fake Penfolds were already sold through the online shop and its associated wine shops to a vast network of cities and provinces across China.
The scale and value of the wines involved promoted the police to carry out an immediate raid to intercept the ring’s operation.
The raid revealed that the ring has been producing counterfeit wines and spirits that go beyond Australia’s popular Penfolds to include Hennessy, Martell cognac and China’s own GreatWall wine.
A total of six suspects were arrested on site and over 8,000 bottles of semi-finished and bottled fake wines were seized, as well as more than 64,000 items of logos, trademarks, packagings that bear Penfolds name.
Despite the tariffs, Penfolds still remains one of the most popular imported wine brands inside mainland China, which means it’s also among the most faked brands in the market.
Last year, as we have reported an inter-provincial police operation led by Guangzhou police uncovered the biggest haul of fake Penfolds worth RMB 130 million (US$20.1 million).