New Wine Into Old Wineskins Works for Jesus, but Not for Wine Dealers

Wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan built lavish lifestyle on allegedly passing off store-bought wine as rare vintages

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Laszlo Balogh / Reuters

Bottles of aged wines, some of which date back to 1895, are lined up in a wine vault containing 280,000 bottles in Tokaj, Hungary, on Oct. 22, 2013

Wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan will stand trial in New York City on Monday, on charges of passing off ordinary wine as vintage.

Prosecutors claim that Kurniawan’s California home was a “counterfeit-wine laboratory,” where he “mixed and blended lower-priced wines so that they would mimic the taste and character of rare and far more expensive wines,” before pouring them into bottles equipped with forged labels, Agence France-Presse reports.

The Indonesian-born Kurniawan had a meteoric rise in the wine world and enjoyed an opulent lifestyle. Suspicions of fraudulent sales, however, mounted over the years. In one of the more blatant instances, Kurniawan allegedly tried to sell a Domaine Ponsot bottle from 1929, when the winery only began bottling in 1934.

The FBI arrested Kurniawan in March 2012, shortly after he allegedly tried to sell a consignment of French wine worth an estimated $889,750 at a London auction.