Foiling Wine Pirates

Technology for wine bottlers helps battle counterfeit bottlers

Like Colgin, the Staglins haven't run across fakes so far, but they decided to take a preemptive step and use the Kodak system on large bottles that are likely to end up being traded, said Garen Staglin.

"We want to be sure that we can give our customers the assurance of the integrity of our brand and label after we spent so much time and effort to try to accomplish what we've done over the years," he said.

In San Francisco, Jerome Zech, CEO of, which had $22.5 million in sales last year, doesn't think wine fraud is prevalent.

But with some high-end wines starting at $500 a bottle for pre-release prices, he's all for the industry's move toward anti-counterfeiting measures. "It'll help them and it'll help us as well."

WineBid's officials authenticate wine by only dealing with people they trust and checking bottles against a vast database, Zech said. If something seems off, "we just don't even question whether or not we would put it on our site. We would just reject the bottle."

So when someone showed up with two bottles of a famous French wine - and the glass was different for each bottle, "We go, `Are you joking? Where did you get these things," Zech said. "He had some story, and we just said, `Sorry.'"


On the Net:

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.