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Posted: Friday, 01 October 2010 10:42

The Great Escape with Grape Harvest

One occasionally hears of fakes and frauds in the world of wine but denuding part of a vineyard full of ripe grapes and driving away with the loot is not an everyday occurrence and is not amusing for the French grape grower whose premium crop is perhaps already in the press at a rival wine maker, with the police having few clues.

The gang used a combine harvester Sunday night to harvest the entire crop of the 5- acre vineyard parcel of premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon belonging to the grape grower Roland Cavaille in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France and drove away with over 30 tons of grapes which according to him have perhaps already been pressed at a competitor’s winery.

The crime has baffled the Gendarmerie (police) who haven’t found many clues yet accept some foot-prints and the tire marks of the truck allegedly used to haul the loot. They suspect that it must have taken two people to work around four hours. The area where the theft occurred is quite isolated, a few kilometers from the village, near a river making it safe and easy to work.

‘These are some of the best grapes in France, and we fear a wine mafia gang has stolen them,’ reportedly claims a detective investigating the crime that occurred between the towns of Sauvian and Villeneuve-Les-Beziers, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. He also said that many Russian gangs had moved into the Riviera recently.

One witness reported hearing engine noises in the early hours of the morning, according to the French newspaper, Le Parisien. Cavaille said the thieves were clearly professionals who could easily sell the grapes. He admits that similar crimes had taken place before too in this wine growing region. There had been a similar grape theft reported in the area four years ago and one complaint had been filed this year too. While the vineyard is insured, it did not cover the loss of harvested grapes implying a financial disaster for him.

The grape growers of Maharashtra and Karnataka are used to the menace of birds eating away their grapes around the harvest time. The wine producers have seen the grape vanishing trick when the contracted farmers sell off the grapes clandestinely to higher bidders before they fully ripen. But they might be amused by this possibility and the need to be more careful about their crops. There have already been instances of wine terrorists trying to poison a premier vineyard in Bordeaux.


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