Winery fined $500k for stealing irrigation water has had export licence revoked in separate breach

June 11, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Jindalee Road Wines Pty Ltd has this week had its export licence cancelled by Wine Australia, the regulatory body responsible for issuing export licenses to Australia’s wine industry. 

According to a statement issued to media, “Wine Australia’s Label Integrity Program investigation found that Jindalee Road Wines had failed to meet its record-keeping obligations established by the Wine Australia Act 2013.”

“Wine Australia has only suspended or cancelled eight licences in the past ten years, including Jindalee Road Wines. There are more than 2000 active licence holders,” continued the statement.

The news follows on from Jindalee Road Wines’ March breach of the Water Management Act, which saw it fined just under $500,000 for illegally tapping into a pipeline to steal almost 365 megalitres of water between 2016 and 2019. According to the ABC, this involved excavating a Western Murray Irrigation pipelines and installing pipes to bypass metering equipment. The amount of water stolen reportedly had a total market value of up to $305,000 at the time. 

Jindalee Road Wines and former manager David Littore faced the NSW Land and Environment Court on numerous charges of breaching the Water Management Act. The company was convicted and fined $326,500, with Littore also being convicted and ordered to pay an additional $172,500. The convicted parties also agreed to pay costs of $95,000 to the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), who initiated the legal action. 

The March prosecution was the 38th brought about by the NRAR and the largest brought about since the Regulator’s 2018 formation. 

Following the recent breach of record-keeping obligations, Wine Australia has reassured that “there are no concerns about health or safety for consumers of the wine. However, wine label claims in relation to vintage, variety and region strongly influence people’s purchasing decisions.” 

The announcement follows shortly behind the appointment of Ned Hewitson as Wine Australia’s new General Manager Regulation & General Counsel. Reflecting on the appointment, CEO Martin Cole told Drinks Trade that the “regulatory services area is critically important for us, particularly with new markets opening up, so we’re very excited that Ned’s taken that role. He’s been doing it for the last five months, done an excellent job.” 

Jindalee Road Wines will have the opportunity to appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. 

More information on Wine Australia’s Label Integrity Program can be found at this dedicated webpage. Any suspected breaches of Australian wine regulations can be reported openly or anonymously via Wine Australia’s Wine Watch portal.


Click here to read the complete interview Drinks Trade conducted with Martin Cole.

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