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Canadian vineyard suffers grape theft

A Canadian vineyard in the province of Quebec was targeted by thieves last week, who made off with 500kg of grapes the night before the vines were due to be picked.

Coteau Rougemont

Benoit Giroussens, the vineyard manager at Vignoble et Cidrerie Coteau Rougemont, told CBC that the thieves had stolen around 500kg of Vidal grapes worth CA$5,600, enough to make 350 bottles of wine.

Giroussens told the news site that his workers had arrived on the morning of 22 October to harvest the vineyard, only to find it already picked.

“We must have surprised them in the morning because there were grapes left behind, even garbage bags full of grapes were left,” he said.

Giroussens believes those involved used some form of vehicle to travel down the rows and rip the grapes from the vines. As a result, he told CBC that he was worried that the vines wouldn’t recover from the ordeal.

Due to the remote nature of the vineyard, which is hidden by woodland, Michel Robert, the owner of the estate, told The Canadian Press that he believes the thieves knew the area well.

Robert told the drinks business that the police were yet to make an arrest and the winery has since picked and pressed the rest of the grapes from the parcel.

“Our assumptions are that it is an amateur winemaker that decided to use our grapes to test his skills,” he told db.

Coteau Rougemont is offering a reward of five cases of wine to anyone who can identify those responsible. The estate grows grapes including Vidal, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Montérégie valley to produce a range of still, fortified and ice wines. It also makes a range of ciders and apple purée.

This was not the only drinks-related theft that occurred last week. On the other side of the country in British Columbia, two beer fermentation tanks worth $40,000 were stolen from a craft brewery under construction in Port Coquitlam. Thankfully the tanks, which belonged to Boardwalk Brewery, were located before they were melted down for scrap days later.

The theft of grapes from vineyards is also not uncommon. In 2018 Firefly Hill Vineyards in Elliston, Virginia said it had lost around US$50,000 after thieves stole two and a half tons of soon-to-be harvested grapes, while a gang of thieves in southern Germany broke into a vineyard and ran a professional harvesting machine across its vines, stealing its entire crop.

In the previous year seven tonnes of grapes were stolen from vineyards in Bordeaux mid-harvest. Around 6.5 metric tons of grapes disappeared from a vineyard in Génissac near Saint Émilion, while a further 600-700kg of grapes were stolen from a vineyard in Pomerol. At one vineyard, thieves even went so far as to uproot 500 vines completely from a vineyard in nearby Montagne.

In the same year in Switzerland, criminals made off with 700 kilos of Pinot Noir and Chasselas grapes from the Weingut Hämmerli Ins vineyard, having cut through protective netting and taken grapes from the roadside.

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