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NZ’s Pyramid Valley launches ‘pioneering’ anti-fraud device

Published:  17 October, 2022

Canterbury-based winery Pyramid Valley Vineyards has collaborated with forensic sciences company Oritain to develop a pioneering verification of origin tool – a first for the wine industry.

Launching in tandem with the release of Pyramid Valley's 2020 Botanicals Collection range, each label will carry a unique QR code that traces a wine's origin back to the soil.

Explaining the science behind this innovative venture, Pyramid Valley's co-owner Steve Smith MW observed that: “Wherever you are in the world, the geochemistry of the land differs, even in the case of parcels of land that are only a few metres apart. As a grapevine grows, it absorbs a unique ratio of elements depending on the mesoclimate, altitude, precipitation, soil type and growing conditions.”

He continued: “Using cutting edge forensic science, Oritain can identify this unique ratio in the soil that is ‘imprinted’ from grapes to the finished wine creating a scientific link that runs through the land, the vine and the wine. This link remains through the life of the wine, never changing. As proof, the Oritain Verification of Origin and Provenance mark is displayed on the wine’s back label in a QR code providing a direct digital link to the guarantee.”

In a recent column for Harpers, Tim Atkin MW shared his musings over the clandestine world of wine fraud, noting that “a recent article on Natalie Wang’s reported on the prosecution of a US$51.4m smuggling ring – the largest in China’s history, apparently – but I suspect this is but the tip of a very murky iceberg.”

However, the availability of high-tech verification tools, such as the Oritain system developed in New Zealand, may help to turn the tide.

Oritain's CEO Grant Cochrane commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with Pyramid Valley to bring together extraordinary fine wine with the integrity that consumers can trust thanks to cutting edge forensic science. Our technology enables us to give the consumer the ability to trace their wine from vine to barrel to bottle. It is an important breakthrough for producers providing a level of traceability like no other. The Oritain Trustmark will become just that – a trusted symbol of origin verification.”