In any industry where fine products are bought and sold for prices well beyond the norm, fraud remains an omnipresent and dangerous entity. After all, it only stands to reason that criminals would seek to take advantage of potential buyers who may have the financial resources to afford the finer things in life but do not yet have the savvy to deduce what is and is not a legitimate investment. With this idea in mind, a number of winemakers in South Africa have begun to use holographic labels on their wine bottles to further reduce the likelihood of effective counterfeiting. Given the fact that counterfeit wine production in South Africa poses a legitimate threat to the financial sanctity of the country’s renowned vineyards, it should come as no surprise that many vineyard owners are actively seeking out new means by which they can ensure that their product continues to draw the value and recognition it rightly deserves.
Counterfeiting in the wine industry is not isolated to South Africa. In fact, a number of high profile counterfeiters have been apprehended in Europe and America over the past several years. In each scenario, the individual in question was selling cheap, ordinary wine at exorbitant prices by counterfeiting labels from some of the world’s most esteemed vineyards. This is a crime that is not taken lightly. For example, Rudy Kurniawan, once a highly respected international wine merchant, was sentenced to ten years in prison for selling counterfeit wine in sums well over millions of dollars. As is standard with counterfeiters in this particular industry, Kurniawan was found to be duplicating the labels found on more high dollar vintages and selling them to individuals who were completely unaware that such a “bait and switch” had occurred.
The holographic labelling is, by its very nature, much more difficult for counterfeiters to recreate effectively. Because of this, those who do attempt to counterfeit those wines which feature the holographic label will more easily be apprehended. Michael Fridjhon, a professor at Cape Town University specializing in the wine industry, discussed the merits of these new holographic labelling schemes, stating, “Given the escalation of wine prices generally and the fact that no one envisioned this problem 30 years ago, even with the most prestigious wines, it’s probably prudent…You frankly can’t trust the auction houses anymore; they don’t do enough to check on provenance.”
While some may consider this issue a matter that should only concern those live far removed from the problems and pressures of ordinary citizens, the fact remains that wine counterfeiting has, at this point, resulted in fraudulent trade worth millions of British pounds. Because of this, addressing and correcting this situation is an absolute must.