On January 22, Italian police seized over one million liters of counterfeit wine during a series of dawn raids in the northern region of Lombardy. Five were arrested in connection with the production of fake Oltrepò Pavese DOC and PGI wines, Meininger’s Wine Business International reports.
The confiscated bottles contained extra sugar, prohibited grape varieties, and additives to mimic the flavor and aroma of real Oltrepò Pavese wines. Numerous cases were also falsely labeled “organic.” The resulting product was not harmful, according to prosecutors, “just fraudulent.”
The raid was the culmination of a year-long investigation into the Cantina di Canneto wine cooperative, which is located about 35 miles south of Milan, in the Oltrepò Pavese region.
After receiving a tip-off about the co-op’s 2018 vintage, police bugged phones and used video surveillance to obtain the necessary evidence to make their move. It’s currently unknown whether any of the counterfeit wine was exported.
Several high-profile figures were among those arrested, including the Cantina di Canneto cooperative’s chairman, and the vice-chair of the local branch of Assoenologi, Italy’s winemaker’s association.
Sadly, this is not the first time Oltrepò Pavese, a lesser-known region in Lombardy known for its Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) wines, has been in the news for wine fraud.
In 2014, Italian police arrested over 200 people in connection with counterfeit DOC wine production. As prosecutor Giorgio Reposo said in a press conference on the day of the arrests, clearly, “lessons have not been learned.”