A cornerstone of Wine Writers of New Zealand is its commitment to protect both the interests of the public and the reputation and integrity of wine writing in New Zealand. The first step was the drafting of a Declaration of Independence in 2011 that all wine writers in the country were invited to sign. This was followed by the establishment of the Wine Writers of New Zealand organisation, which set down rules for its members that specified best practice to avoid unacceptable conflicts of interest and which has been developed into this more detailed Code of Ethics.
Code of Ethics
- Members shall endeavour at all times to maintain independence and integrity and to avoid conflicts of interest. However, in the event of minor conflicts, these must be fully and transparently disclosed to all interested parties.
- Engaging in any work that involves direct payment from a winery is discouraged given the possibility of real or perceived conflicts of interest.
- It is not acceptable to do any paid work for an individual producer that could be construed as marketing or endorsement through any channels, including social media.
- If a member enters into any financial relationship with a winery, this must be disclosed to the Committee. A stand down period is recommended in the editorial coverage of the company or its products over the duration of the work and then 6 months from the end of the agreement.
- Given the conflicts created by deriving an income from wineries and the potential for bias, members are discouraged from charging wineries to access reviews behind pay walls. However, subscriptions open to all are acceptable.
- Members must not participate in community or political activities that compromise credibility and objectivity of their work.
- Members should not guarantee editorial coverage of any nature on the basis of a payment, sample, gift or invitation as this destroys the integrity of a wine writer’s critical independence.
- Direct payment from a producer for wine reviews is not acceptable as it presents a significant conflict of interest.
- Wine samples can be accepted by members with the proviso that they are under no obligation to review them, positively or otherwise.
- Invitations to industry funded travel and events can be accepted for research purposes, but members should make it clear that they have no obligation to provide any editorial coverage or reviews. Regional/multi-producer trips are preferred, but single producer visits or events are acceptable as long as their main focus is information gathering rather than entertainment. Wherever possible hosted trips should be disclosed.
- Free gifts and services should not be solicited. Small unsolicited gifts may be kept, but must not influence content decisions. Any substantial gift or service must be returned or declined.
- Writing an advertorial is a question of personal ethics, but is only acceptable if the writer is paid by the publisher and the copy is clearly indicated as a promotional feature in the publication.
- Members must not profit from information they receive in their capacity as wine writers nor use their position to obtain any financial or other benefit for themselves or their families or associates.