Chinese Law Enforcement Uncovers Massive Wine Smuggling Operation

The value of the wine is over $50 million

Wine bottles
There's crime, and then there's wine crime.
Dan Cristian Pădureț/Unsplash

Last year, the consumer research agency Wine Intelligence took in the last decade or so of wine consumption in China. Their report argued that “the wine market will remain at similar, lower volume levels compared with the peak of the market in the mid-2010s” — and explored the different facets of drinking and collecting wine across the nation.

Not every bottle of wine meshes neatly with consumer trends, however. To be a little more specific, smuggled bottles of wine aren’t always going to show up on official records. And as it turns out, law enforcement in China recently shut down what sounds like a large-scale smuggling operation that was illicitly bringing high-end wine into the country.

An article by Natalie Wang in Vino Joy, a publication that covers the Chinese wine market, has more details about the operation. The article doesn’t cite too many specifics, but Wang writes that the representative of a winery in Bordeaux was illicitly smuggling grands crus into China, and using falsified documents to avoid paying the appropriate fees.

The total value of the wine in question was around $51.4 million. The operation sounds decidedly intricate, and — according to the Vino Joy article — 39 people in four cities were arrested in late August for their involvement in it.


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