The former boss of a South Australian wine company has been found guilty of selling Chardonnay adulterated with Sultana grape juice to companies including Hardys.
Andrew Hashim, former managing director of Rivers Wines, was convicted last week by Adelaide Magistrates Court on 34 counts of falsifying records.
Rivers Wines pleaded guilty in 2007 to 97 counts of the same charge.
The scam was first uncovered in 2003, when thousands of litres of grape juice sent to major winemakers, including Hardys, was quarantined by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation after buyers raised doubts over the variety.
At the time, Chardonnay grapes were selling for $1000 a tonne, while Sultana grapes were worth $250 a tonne.
Paul Lapsley, chief winemaker at Hardys told decanter.com, ‘In 2003 Hardys (now Constellation Wines) became aware that Rivers Wines were selling Chardonnay adulterated with Sultana.’
‘We immediately stopped purchasing wine from the supplier and brought the matter to the attention of the regulatory authorities.’
‘We are pleased that the prosecution was successful and the integrity of the Australian wine industry is preserved’, he added.
Rivers Wines is now facing a maximum penalty of $1.4 million, while Hashim could pay up to $102,000.
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Written by James Lawrence