Mark Aselstine
November 11, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Germany Deals with Stolen Grapes

 (AP Photo/dapd, Ronald Wittek, File)

I've long wondered what type of security wineries had across the world and frankly if any were actually needed. There is a famous story about a Pinot Noir grower here in California and how he ended up with the specific clone of Pinot he happens to grow in the vineyard, since that Pinot clone has never been officially sold in the United States. It has been said while on a tour of Burgundy some cuttings may have been taken and put into a suitcase to be brought home. While I have no idea if its true, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility given both the personalities involved as well as the enormous profits to be made.  We've always laughed a bit at the story and have certainly read and heard about all the counterfeit Bordeaux being passed in China, but stealing grapes before they are made into wine seems to be new, or at least hadsn't happened for generations.

Germany is confronting the question of vineyard security head on due to stolen fruit from some of their most famous vineyard. As you might expect, securing a 100 acre vineyard is easier said than done. talks some about the problems associated with trying to secure a vineyard, mainly that during the last few periods of having grapes stolen the local vintners could simply stop all unknown traffic on the variety of access roads leading to their vineyards. Of course, things are quite a bit different in 2011 and those roads deliver tourists who are the life blood of the wine industry, so no matter how great the problem, shutting the roads doesn’t seem to be a viable option any longer.

It’s a sad situation both in terms of the larger economy and especially for these vineyards who are struggling to get by in a climate where expensive wines have been hit by both discounters and general malaise in the marketplace.


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