Another strange label

May 8, 2012

This time, quite a different mixed message that still has me puzzling.

I live in the south-west corner of Western Australia not far from several famous wine regions (Margaret River, Geographe, and Blackwood Valley, in particular). When we go out for dinner in a restaurant, we try to buy local wine — really local if possible, then south-west wine or Western Australian wine in general, before we look at a wine from other areas of Australia. Many of the local wines are from boutique winemakers who don’t make wine in export quantities. There are exceptions, of course, and some winemakers have a healthy export market.

So that’s the background to this label:

Frankland River is in the lower south-west of Western Australia; the 3 Oceans Wine Company is in the Margaret River wine region in south-west Western Australia, about an hour’s drive from where I live. The restaurant where I had this wine is about a 45-minute drive from the winery.

So why on earth is there an ‘Imported from Finland’ note on this bottle???

My husband thought it must be a mis-labeling and that perhaps a batch of wines from the winery got the wrong labels. It’s the only logical explanation, because why else would a Western Australian restaurant be purchasing a Western Australian wine from an importer in Finland?

That said, there are Australian wines that Australians can buy cheaper in the US than in Australia (Penfolds Bin 389 springs to mind…). The reason is that these large companies export massive quantities of their wine in big vats/bladders. The wine is then bottled in the importing country and the label is applied.

But Finland???

Anyone got any other ideas? I’m still confused by the mixed messages on this label.


  1. I would have asked the restaurant staff for an explanation.

  2. I think it is a label mixup at the winery as your husband suggests. It’s not really saying it’s imported from Finland. It’s imported BY that Finnish agency. So, for someone sitting in a restaurant in Finland, the message is that Hartwa Trade OY AB imported this wine into Finland from Australia. (General info: OY is a Finnish abbreviation for company – you know, the Pty, Ltd, Co., Inc. stuff. AB is the Swedish. In some places in Finland, they use both the Finnish and Swedish terms because there are pockets of Swedes and there is a connection history between the two country (and not a completely positive one).)

  3. I agree with your husband. A label mix-up. It’s actually not about being imported from Finland. For Finnish people, they’d read that this wine came to Finland because Hartwa Trade OY AB imported it into Finland from Australia – “Imported [into Finland] by”. That’s the way to interpret that label. Obviously, that’s wrong when sitting in Australia.

  4. What Karen says. We see those labels all the time on imported stuff. Or perhaps not a mix-up as such; the bottle was probably intended for export but then the deal fell through or something like that.

  5. I like that explanation — a deal that fell through, then the company had to offload the wine, perhaps at a reduced rate, to the local market.


  6. Thanks for that, Karen! I knew that GMB (?) was the German equivalent to Pty Ltd, and LLC was the US equivalent. Now I know that AB and OY are the Swedish and Finnish equivalents. You just contributed to my ‘learn something new every day’ philosophy ;-)


  7. The connection between Finland and Sweden is comparable to the one between England and Wales, except England didn’t lose Wales to the Russians in 1809.

  8. Or they only have one label for cost reasons, and only export to Finland. So the same label is used in Australia and Finland.
    And it’s GmbH for the German equivalent of Pty Ltd. ;)

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