Wine Thieves Target Burgundy Grapes, Vines
Given the worldwide cachet and stratospheric prices of great Burgundy, it’s no surprise that light-fingered cork dorks might try to pinch a few bottles from their local wine shop.
But six tons (!) of grapes? And 500 vines, ripped right out of the ground in the dead of night?
That’s what’s happening in the regions of Pomerol and St. Emilion, where French grape robbers apparently have not only light fingers but heavy machinery. . . plus a giant set of cast-iron gonads. So far in the waning months of 2017, all told almost seven tons of grapes have been stolen from Burgundy’s vineyards, and while the overall financial impact on local wineries has yet to be revealed, at least one vintner estimates thefts of his grapes to total more than $35,000.
So far, no grape-stained thieves have been apprehended, though Burgundy growers suspect they’re both wine and robbery professionals. To safeguard their crop, local growers have organized nighttime patrols, on the lookout for vehicles cruising through their vineyards at night. In the Champagne region, local police have stepped up too, sending officers on horseback to watch over vineyards and nab any grape-happy thieves.
French wine industry analysts suspect that the recent boom in rip-offs is caused by one of Burgundy’s worst growing seasons in 30 years, where brutally cold weather and hail have reduced the harvest by almost 20 percent. The one bright spot, however: local growers have yet to report any plagues of locusts, water turning into blood or three days of total darkness.