Saturday, September 25, 2010

Were Rare wine grapes REALLY "stolen" from a Benton County vineyard ?

Today on KING (Seattle NBC affiliate) news report stated that over a ton of rare (in this state) wine grapes were stolen in the last week from an Eastern Washington vineyard.

Mourvedre grapes are not commonly grown in Washington State yet.  They are an "exotic grape" and this would have been the first year these grapes from this vineyard would have been harvested for wine making.
Vineyard Manager Ryan Johnson tells us it looked like a professional job - a complete and clean illegal harvest of about 2,000 pounds of the rare grapes.

“Whoever it was, knew what they were doing. They were very thorough," said Johnson.
And they took only the Mourvedre, nothing else
If one does a little research, you will see mourvedre grapes attract birds, bees, and gophers - and likely bears - who prefer these grapes to other varieties:
numerous challenges in growing and harvesting mourvedre. For one thing, deer, gophers, birds and bees will bypass other neighboring varieties to get to the mourvedre
And this year, there seems to be a good number of cedar waxwings (birds) feasting on grapes in the general area as the missing mourvedre grapes.  We have also had a cool summer in Washington State and the berries the bears usually feast on had very little fruit and what fruit they had matured very late.  Bears are searching for food wherever they can find it.
Dan Caraway, assistant manager for Kirsten Rose Vineyard, mostly is concerned about the cedar waxwings, a kind of bird that has decided to stop in south Kennewick on its migration south to feast on his merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot.
So one needs to ask:  Are these vineyard owners ignorant of the fact that mourvedre grapes are targeted by birds, gophers, bears, and other critters?  Are they ignorant of the fact that the cedar waxwings decided to stop in Eastern Washington for a feast during their migration? If they know their grapes attract birds and bears, are they using this as free publicity for their vineyard / winery or do they have insurance against theft they are trying to capitalize on?

Do these farmers really think someone could have gone in with a truck and harvested 1-1/4 tons of grapes by hand and nobody noticed anything?


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