New Plymouth winemakers convicted and ordered to pay more than $15,000
New Plymouth winemakers of Sentry Hill Winery and Sur Le Mur wines were convicted on Friday in the New Plymouth District
Court and have been ordered to pay more than $13,500 in reparations and fined $2,000 for unlawfully manufacturing and
selling wine and defrauding Customs. Sur Le Mur Ltd was also convicted and fined $1,500 for the same offences.
Sentry Hill Winery (2006) Ltd was placed into liquidation at the request of Customs in April 2016 after the debt owed
from unpaid excise duty totalled more than $280,000.
The sole director and shareholder Stephen Parkes’ powers as a director ceased upon liquidation.
Mr Parkes’ wife Wendy Parkes then incorporated Sur Le Mur Ltd and applied for a Customs-controlled area licence to
manufacture alcoholic products at the Sentry Hill Winery. Customs declined her application on the basis that the area
was already licensed to Sentry Hill Winery which was in liquidation.
Enquiries by a Customs Officer later revealed that Sur Le Mur Ltd had sold bulk red wine to retail outlets in New
Plymouth despite not having a licence to manufacture or sell the goods.
Customs conducted a stocktake of Sentry Hill Winery in May 2016 and again in January 2017 and the second stocktake
revealed there was bottled liquor which was unaccounted for.
Customs investigations also located documents which recorded the Parkes’ dealings with the unaccounted for goods, which
resulted in more than $13,000 excise duty owed to Customs, which was never paid. Mr Parkes had sold the liquor to his
wife’s company Sur Le Mur Ltd who then on-sold it to grocery and liquor outlets.
Customs Manager Central and Southern Ports Joe Cannon says that this is a good lesson to other New Zealand winemakers
about the importance of obtaining a Customs-controlled area licence to manufacture and sell goods and paying excise
“People may think that because they are a small business then they can break the rules, however, Customs takes these
matters very seriously, and as seen in the this case, we will prosecute when the law is broken.”
More information about excise tax and licencing is available on the Customs website www.customs.govt.nz