Fraud in the vineyards

A film by Jean-Louis Perez
broadcast in may 2013

This documentary brings the French wine industry into focus. This emblematic product brought France 10 billion euros of export revenue in 2012 alone. But wine producers are now facing a strong competition from “new world” wines as well as their European neighbours. As their competitors gain an ever larger market share, some producers are tempted to break the rules. In the Languedoc region in the south of France fraud inspectors uncovered a racket among the producers and traders with much counterfeit wine being sold as “Pinot” when it was not the case.

In French supermarkets, consumers find it hard to choose between all the prize winning wines. Are these various prizes and distinctions really a guarantee of a good wine? Or are they just a marketing strategy? They seem to be now a must-have sales argument for most “average” wines. Whereas the finest ones only need their names to be sold.

The Internet, where sales grow by 30% every year, isn’t exempt from fraud. 10% of wine buyers purchase online. But some of them never received what they had paid for. A loss of money ranging from 150 to 22,000 euros.

Wine fraud is estimated to generate profits around 100 million dollars a year. We investigate in France and the United States to find out more about the dark side of wine production. For the French authorities, a highly strategic economy is at stake. As well as France’s brand image.