Blog: Chris MercerFrench winemaker's entire grape harvest stolen

Chris Mercer | 30 September 2010

Thieves have stolen a French winemaker's entire crop of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Everyone knows that Monday mornings are not the best, but Roland Cavaille's week began particularly badly. He woke up to find that he had lost his 30-tonne Cabernet Sauvignon harvest, equivalent to around EUR15,000 (US$20,400) in revenue.

Cavaille, who grows grapes in Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, told French media that the thieves were thought to be wine professionals. Police anticipate that the thieves will look to sell on the grapes. Witnesses have said that they heard machine noises near the scene of crime, indicating that professional harvesting equipment may have been used. 

If this was the work of wine professionals, then I think we can all agree that it's a low blow.

These are troubled times in Languedoc. It is France's biggest wine region and, although there are some outstanding wines, it is arguably also France's least profitable wine area. Languedoc accounts for 70% of all the vines to be ripped out in France over the next 12 months as part of an EU compensation scheme devised to drain Europe of low quality wine.

Yet, wine remains Languedoc's third biggest export product by value and many livelihoods continue to rely on the region's patchwork of vineyards and co-operatives. The resulting tension is obvious.


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