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Thieves stole grapes from Canadian vineyard the night before harvest

(CNN) – When workers arrived at Vignoble Coteau Rougemont, Canada on Thursday and were ready to pick the last grapes of the season, they were in shock.

When they removed the nets from their carefully tended vines, they found that thieves had come to the site overnight – with half a ton of grapes, the equivalent of more than 300 bottles of wine.

The thieves stole 500 kilograms of grapes from the construction site and released the vines.

Courtesy Coteau Rougemont

“In the morning my workers went into the package and started removing the nets. When they got into the row, they found that the nets for half the row had already been removed,” said Michel Robert, owner of the family-run winery in Rougemont, Quebec.

“”When they looked at it, they saw that there were no more grapes in line, “he said.

The thieves set off with half a ton of Vidal Blanc grapes – enough for 325 bottles of white wine that retailed for $ 5,000 Canadian (around $ 3,800), Robert said.

Robert told CNN that he believes thieves used a SUV, trash bags, and a small trailer in the middle of the night to get away with the grapes, and noted that they left a trash bag as evidence of their exploits.

“People were surprised, shocked, frustrated, angry – all the adjectives, you know,” he said. “It’s six months’ work. You work on it for six months, you tend the vines, you prune, you spray, you do all kinds of treatments so you can gather the fruit. And six months later, you are me ready to pick it up and it’s gone, “he added.

“Half a ton is half a ton, and we relied on these grapes to make wine.”

Vidal grapes are pictured on the vine before the planned harvest.

Vidal grapes are pictured on the vine before the planned harvest.

Courtesy Coteau Rougemont

Robert said the vineyard filed a police report – but he doesn’t think the grapes could have been stolen from another winemaker. Instead, he has his own suspicions about who stole the bounty.

“It’s probably someone who wanted to make wine in their garage or basement,” he said, adding, “I would say an amateur winemaker who decided to test their skills on our grapes.”

“It’s not common – we have some parcels for us that are near some houses. Sometimes you go there and notice that a few grapes have been pulled, but not on that scale,” he said.

The vineyard, which produces around 150 tons of grapes annually, offers a reward to anyone who can help track down the missing grapes – five cases of wine.

A spokesman for the Sûreté du Québec Police Service, Louis-Philippe Bibeau, told CNN that it is very unusual for this type of theft to take place and that there are currently no suspects or major leads.

There have been several reports of such crimes involving wine. Last year, The Local news agency reported that French police were dispatching officers to monitor and prevent grape thefts in the Burgundy region.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to the coverage.

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