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Wine investment standards body launched

The Wine Investment Association, a self-regulatory body designed to set standards for wine investment, was launched in London yesterday.

The four founder members of the Wine Investment Association are Hugo Rose MW of Culver Street Ltd, David Jackson of Albany Portfolio Management, Adrian Lenagan of Provenance Fine Wines and Peter Shakeshaft of Vin-X Ltd. All are wine portfolio managers and investment advisers.

Members will be required to adhere to a code of conduct. Companies wishing to join will have to satisfy an audit by accountants Mazars.

The audit will ensure companies have systems to guarantee orders are fulfilled and that investors have good title to their wines.

The use of cold calling will be permitted under certain conditions, but not high-pressure sales. Tax advice must be in line with the official view of Revenue and Customs.

WIA membership will cost around £1500 a year and will include the audit fee.

Launching the WIA Hugo Rose MW, chairman, said: ‘Wine investment is legitimate and is worth £200m in the UK. Wine investment should be safe. Unfortunately the reaction of the wine trade to past failures has been limited to handwringing. The WIA is an important step towards eradicating fraud and inadequate management.’

Peter Shakeshaft added, ‘These proposals are the first step – the start but not the end.’

There will now be a consultation period on the WIA proposals, which will run until 20 January 2013. The WIA code of practice will be adopted at the WIA’s inaugural meeting on 14 February.

Gary Boom, MD of London merchant Bordeaux Index said, ‘Although it is not for us as we are a wine merchant rather than an investment company, we support any attempt to put standards and regulation in place. This is long overdue and we applaud them for it.’

Nathan Fynes of merchants and investment advisors L’Assemblage was less positive. While he said he supported a move to regulate he felt the current body ‘could present an opportunity for the more unscrupulous companies to appear more credible’.

‘It’s a lot of hot air to give certain companies more grandeur. It doesn’t have any substance. We are unlikely to join,’ he said.

Written by Jim Budd

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