France is facing a very small wine harvest this year due to bad weather conditions. Now several vineyards have suffered a series of enormous setbacks after thieves stole more than seven metric tons of grapes and even uprooted whole vines in the middle of the night.
According to The Drinks Business, three Bordeaux vineyards have reported enormous grape thefts since mid-September. A vineyard in Pomerol that produces top-quality reds reportedly lost between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds of grapes. At a nearby vineyard in Montagne, thieves actually dug 500 vines right out of the ground and carried the uprooted vines away.
Another vineyard, near Saint Emilion, said about six and a half metric tons of grapes had been stolen. The owners said the crime had to have been carried out by other professional vintners.
Industry experts say grape theft is not unheard of, but this year it’s been an even bigger problem than usual. Weather problems and climate change mean vintners are facing a very small wine harvest, and that’s led some of them to start stealing grapes from other vineyards.
"There's a great temptation to help oneself from (the vineyard) next door," an anonymous industry expert told AFP.
The weather has been terrible for grape vines this year. France is facing its worst wine harvest since 1945. In March, unusually warm weather made shoots and buds sprout too early from the ground. Then in April the weather suddenly got unseasonably cold, and the sudden frost killed off many of the fragile buds that weren’t even supposed to be out of the ground yet. Winemakers did what they could to save the plants, but entire crops were wiped out at vineyards across France, including in Champagne, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley. Production in Bordeaux is expected to be only around 300 million liters this year. On average, the region produces 540 million liters a year.
Yields this year are expected to be tiny, but the grapes that managed to survive might make some very good wine. After the unseasonable warm and cold snaps that ruined crops in the spring, summer weather got very hot. Experts say that hot summer weather will likely produce great vintages.
With a tiny harvest of very good quality wines, French wine prices are likely to skyrocket this year. That expectation is leading to a huge increase in grape thefts this year, and it might also be a good time for customers to check out the best wineries in America and what they have to offer.