Winemaker: Up to 30 percent of Czech wine market illegal

Photo: Bohemia Sekt

Between 20 and 30 percent of wine consumed in the Czech Republic comes from the black market, according to the leading winemaker Bohemia Sekt. The company says that in recent years, the wine market might have been targeted by fraudsters who previously produced and sold bootleg spirits.

Photo: Bohemia Sekt
In 2012, around 50 people died of methanol poisoning after drinking unsafe bootleg liquor. The rules for retail sales of spirits have been tightened in the wake of the scandal. But the move has also led to fraudsters increasingly targeting the country’s wine market, according to the leading Czech wine producer Bohemia Sekt.

The company’s managers told the news agency ČTK on Tuesday that according to their estimates, between 20 and 30 percent of wine consumed in the Czech Republic come from the black market. The bulk of illegal, untaxed wine is presumably sold on tap in various kinds of street kiosks, tobacco shops and similar establishments.

“The quality of such wine is often terrible and the product is sometimes a chemical compound rather than wine,” Bohemia Sekt’s marketing and sales director, Petr Černý said.

Ondřej Beránek,  photo: Bohemia Sekt
Figures released by the ACNielsen agency show that since 2010, the volume of wine sold in the Czech Republic has dropped by 40 percent. However, Bohemia Sekt managers say that overall sales have certainly not registered such a major decrease. Instead, wine is increasingly sold through illegal channels.

“Another way of getting untaxed wine to the Czech market is undeclared imports of poor quality products that are sold as relatively attractive local varieties, mainly Pinot Gris and Pálava,” Bohemia CEO Ondřej Beránek told the ČTK news agency.

The Czech food inspection authority has made efforts to curb the illegal wine trade. Inspectors have recently discovered hundreds of unregistered establishments selling wine. Bohemia Sekt managers say however the black market could be considerably diminished by only allowing retailers to sell wine from disposable containers certified by producers.