Almost daily, or at least weekly, we see reports of crimes, litigation, or fraudulent activity associated with the wine industry. I do not expect the rate of these reports to subside as a result of planned actions by the leadership of the wine industry.
However I do have a suggestion for reducing some of the adverse effects of these reports on the public perception of the wine industry. I suggest that one or more of the organizations that advocate for the wine industry explore the possibility of adopting a code of ethics for wine professionals.
For virtually all of the various professions, particularly those who have legal protection against disclosing confidential information obtained from their clients, have carefully developed ethical standards. The resulting ethical codes are developed by the membership, are taught as a part of the profession's continuing education, and are valued as a means for reducing the kind of professional actions that sometimes result in publicized criminal complaints or liability lawsuits.
Consumers also have more confidence in the services they receive from professionals who clearly state that they ascribe to their applicable profession's ethical code. Most attorneys, I am sure, who defend professional practitioners in law suits and criminal actions clearly appreciate those cases where the defendant is knowledgeably committed to following a consensually developed and publicly recognized code of ethics.
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Professional liability insurers, I have found, strongly emphasize the value of teaching professionals the content and the application of the profession's code of ethics. There may well be a range of conflicting responses from wine industry professionals regarding this suggestion, but I do think the possibility of developing a code of ethics for wine professional is worthy of robust debate both among the members of the organizations who advocate for the wine industry as well as the consumers who want to receive the wines that they pay for.
David E. Loberg