After $3,800-worth of grapes went missing overnight, the Coteau Rougemont vineyard hopes sharing their story will discourage thieves in the future.

By Mike Pomranz
October 27, 2020
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So much can go wrong with winemaking: poor weather, natural disasters, disease, pests—and that’s all before the grapes even come off the vines. (Because, yes, you can also lose tens of thousands of bottles of wine if your tank bursts.) But of everything that can go wrong, this must be among the most frustrating: A vineyard in Canada discovered that thieves had stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of grapes right off the vine.

Last Thursday, the Coteau Rougemont vineyard in Quebec was planning to harvest their last grapes of the season when they made an infuriating discovery. “In the morning, my workers went into the parcel, and started removing the nets, and when they got into the row, they realized that for half of the row, the nets were already taken off,” owner Michel Robert told CNN. “When they looked at it, they saw there were no more grapes on the row.”

Credit: urbazon/Getty Images

In the middle of the night, thieves apparently made off with over a thousand pounds of Vidal blanc grapes, enough for about 325 bottles with a retail value of around $3,800. The heist likely required the use of an all-terrain vehicle, with the culprits tossing grapes into garbage bags and then hauling them off in a small trailer.

“People were surprised, shocked, frustrated, angry—all the adjectives, you know,” Robert continued. “It's probably somebody that wanted to make wine in his garage or basement…. It's not common—for us, we've got some parcels that are near some houses, sometimes you go there and you notice a few grapes have been taken off, but not to this magnitude.”

The winery filed a police report and turned to Facebook to offer a reward of five cases of wine to anyone who can help catch the thieves, but assuming the culprits are amateurs, hunting them down won’t be easy. As of yesterday, the police told CNN they had no leads. “Specifically to the locals, if someone offers you a good white wine made locally but they don’t have any grape vines, you now know where it came from…,” the winery added on social media. Meanwhile, not all was lost. The winery reportedly harvests about 165 tons of grapes in all, producing a full range of products. So wine sales will continue. And Coteau Rougemont also posted that though they “hurried to complete the Vidal harvest” after the recent events, they “had good returns despite the missing 500 kilograms!” They also hope that sharing their story will discourage thieves from targeting wineries in the future.