Maureen Downey, the wine authentication authority, is coming to Hong Kong in March next year (pic: Maureen Downey)

Maureen Downey, the wine authentication authority, is coming to Hong Kong in March next year

For the first time, attendees of wine authentication expert Maureen Downey's workshop in Hong Kong could obtain advanced certification to become a certified 'wine detective'.

As counterfeit wines continue to plague Asia’s booming wine market, Maureen Downey, globally recognized as the “Sherlock Holmes of wine,” is set to host a workshop in Hong Kong to combat this growing menace. Originally scheduled for October 21-22, 2023 the event has been rescheduled to March 2-3, 2024, at the Grand Hyatt.

The two-day workshop, organized by Chai Consulting, aims to delve deep into the intricacies of the wine industry, focusing on the detection and prevention of wine fraud. Participants will be taken through the scope of wine and spirits fraud, understanding the modus operandi of wine counterfeiters, and hands-on sessions on bottle inspection for authentication and condition.

An authority in wine anthenticating, Downey acted as a consultant for both the US Department of Justice and the FBI during their investigation into the infamous Indonesian wine counterfeiter, Rudy Kurniawan, aka “Dr Conti” for his love of rarefied Domaine Romanee Conti. Her tesitfication against the fraudster helped to convict Kurniawan who served 10 years in jail in the US before his release in 2021.

This year’s workshop will, for the first time, offer certification to its attendees. “We will be offering certificates for those that attend both days of the seminar and are offering an advanced Certification for those that take a post-seminar assessment,” Downey told Vino Joy News.

Chai Consulting has introduced two levels of certification to validate the expertise of attendees, providing participants with a tangible testament to their acquired knowledge and skills in combating wine fraud.

WineFraud Level I Certificate: This foundational certification will be awarded to those who participate in the entirety of the two-day seminar. Attendees can achieve this either by being present at the live 2-day TCM Seminar, which includes the WineFraud Presentation and both the Intro and Advanced Counterfeiting and Authentication Seminars, or by successfully completing the WineFraud Intro and Advanced online courses. It’s essential to note that Level I Certificate holders are not recognized as authenticators by Chai Consulting and The certification primarily verifies the attendee’s basic understanding of WineFraud, Counterfeiting, and the Authentication of wine and spirits bottles.

WineFraud Level II Certificate, Bottle Inspector: An advanced certification, the Level II Certificate is designed for those who have attended the live 2-day TCM Seminar and have also successfully passed a post-seminar project and assessment. This certification showcases a deeper grasp of wine fraud nuances and the foundational techniques of bottle inspection for authenticity, including the 16-points of bottle inspection and assessing a bottle’s storage history and health. However, like the Level I Certificate, Level II Certificate holders are not officially recognized as authenticators.

To obtain the advanced certificate, attendees must attend the 2-day WineFraud Presentation and TCM® Authentication Training Levels I & II, as well as successfully passing a post-seminar Level II Certificate Assessment.

TCM® Certified Authenticator: One giant step up from the Level II certification is the TCM® Certified Authenticator certification. Since 2016, the TCM® Certified Authenticator program has been recognizing individuals who have demonstrated mastery in bottle assessment for authenticity and health. These certified authenticators have completed a comprehensive 10 Module training program, which delves deep into all aspects of known bottle counterfeiting and the TCM® Systematic Approach to bottle inspection. They are licensed to use Chai Consulting’s marks and methods and have access to the extensive Chai Consulting Database, which is a valuable resource for authentication.

Given the high-profile nature of the event and the specialist knowledge being shared, attendance is exclusive. Potential attendees are required to submit their work history and two professional references to secure a seat.

For those keen on participating in this transformative event in the wine industry, more details and registration options are available on the workshop’s official website here. Attendees can enjoy an exclusive 15% discount at checkout using the promotional code “vinojoy.”

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