Fake Richmond “winery” sours business relationship leading to violence

By Amy Chen

The troubled Richmond, BC-based fake “winery” accused of selling counterfeit ice wine to China created a rift between its owners and their business partners leading to violence, according to court documents.

Ying Hua Yu and Tao Li are accusing Canadian Ridgeside Winery Company Ltd. owners JiaMing “Helen” Zhou and YingXiong Feng of Violence in a lawsuit currently making its way through the BC court system.

Yu, Li, Zhou and Feng are equal shareholders of Yangtze Inc, a company whose sole business is owning commercial land in Richmond, BC.

The four partners jointly guaranteed a mortgage offered by Vancity credit union to buy the property at 12200 Riverside Way, Richmond – the site of the former Grand Ballroom – for $3.38 million in July 2015.

Ridgeside Winery leased land from Yangtze Inc thereafter, but failed to pay rent and property taxes, leading to Vancity initiating foreclosure proceedings against the Yangtze Inc and the guarantors of the loan, according to the statement of claim.

The petitioners claim that further a meeting to resolve the situation in July 2016 turned out to be counter productive.

“Ms. Zhou and Mr. Feng simply told the others that they did not have to pay rent because Ridgeside Winery’s construction was increasing the value of the Land,” the Statement of Claim reads. “Mr. Feng also threatened that Ms. Yu and her family would come to physical harm if the issue was pursued further.”

Then in October 2016, the parties held a meeting to explore the possibility of listing the land, which again turned into a violent confrontation with Zhou throwing a glass coffee maker at Li’s father Gangi Li, according to the lawsuit.

The petitioners are asking the court to dissolve Yangtze Inc and appoint a third party liquidator.

In their response to the Statement of Claim, Zhou and Li oppose dissolving Yangtze Inc, and blame the petitioners non-cooperation for the troubles.

“The failure of Ridgeside to make continuous rent payments has not in any case paralyzed or seriously interfered with the normal operations of Yangtze,” they argue. “There is no suggestion, for example, in the petition materials that Yangtze would be unable to obtain small short-term financing, against the Property in which it owns very substantial equity, if that were needed in order to pay expenses in the absence of six months of payments on the Ridgeside Lease.”

The fake winery gained notoriety after Canada’s largest ice wine producer Pillitteri Estates Winery caught Ridgeside Winery selling the counterfeit product at the Chengdu Wine and Spirits Show[1]http://business.financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/vintners-act-to-block-counterfeits-as-chinas-thirst-for-canadian-ice-wine-grows

Pillitteri Estates Winery, based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, successfully shut down an attempt by Ridgeway Winery to register a trademark in 2015[2]http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/viewTrademark.html?id=1681075&lang=eng.

Zhou denies allegations that Ridgeside Winery is selling fake ice wine.

“The winery is still under construction, there is no production of any wine yet, where comes from the ‘fake wine’ as you said,” Zhou told ThinkPol in an email.

We asked Zhou to comment on a Bill of Lading showing her company exporting wines to China last year.

“Ridgeside doesn’t have BC liquor license yet, no a bottle of wine made yet,” Zhou said. “The Bill of Landing is not any wine of Ridgeside.”

When pressed to explain the source of wines Ridgeway was exporting, Zhou responded with “none of your business.”

When asked to comment on the trademark dispute with Pillitteri Estates Winery, Zhou again responded with “none of your business.”

References   [ + ]

1. http://business.financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/vintners-act-to-block-counterfeits-as-chinas-thirst-for-canadian-ice-wine-grows
2. http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/viewTrademark.html?id=1681075&lang=eng