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Suspected wine fraud prompts inspection overhaul

Most Swiss vineyards are located in cantons Vaud, Valais and Geneva Keystone

Swiss wine producers should be subject to closer controls following a suspected dilution scam that rocked the reputation of the industry. The Federal Office for Agriculture (FOA) made the recommendation in a report released on Wednesday.

The study was carried out in the wake of damaging allegations surrounding a major Swiss wine producer in 2013. Media reports fingered the vineyard for allegedly mixing wines and selling them as pure premium brands.

A year later, prosecutors closed down an investigation into the wine producer without charges being laid. But the lingering smell of sour grapes prompted the FOA to examine measures to tighten up inspection to help the industry recover its reputation.

The FOA report recommends the merger of six wine trade supervisory bodies into a single entity and a centralisation of the inspection process, which is currently managed separately by different cantons. In particular, the FOA wants to see a more efficient flow of information between cantons and the federal government.

In addition, the FOA believes the supervisory system should be strengthened with extra funds and more inspections of vineyards.

Of the 1,815 wine producers inspected in 2014, 36 displayed serious shortcomings. Most of these rotten apples were found to have illegally blended wines or to have mislabelled bottles, according to Swiss Wine Trade Inspection. 

Switzerland has six main wine producing regions, concentrated mainly in the west of the country but with production also in canton Ticino and some German-speaking parts of the country. There are some 15,000 hectares of vines which produce almost 100 million litres of wine annually.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR