McBride says the fruit was stolen some time between September 15th and 21st. Winemaker James Mantone, of Syncline Wine Cellars, discovered the theft while inspecting the block. The theft was subsequently confirmed the next day by vineyard manager Ryan Johnson. The grapes were most likely stolen at night over the weekend. McBride estimates that it would take one person eight to nine hours to harvest the grapes. It would take a team of three about two to three hours.
Among the many oddities of this story, only the head trained Mourvedre grapes were taken. The bush vine Mourvedre was not. No other fruit appears to have been taken. This would seem to indicate that the people who stole the grapes were knowledgeable. Adding to this belief is that the vines do not appear to have been damaged; the harvesting was skillfully done.
McBride writes, “The real heartbreak for us was that this was to be our first vintage and we were looking forward to comparing the bush vine technique to some adjacent fan-trained Mourvedre (which was not stolen).”
Someone, of course, knows who did this. And of course their friends will soon know if they don’t already. Something like this is extremely difficult to keep quiet. It’s time for that someone to come forward.
McBride writes, “It goes without saying the last thing this industry needs are these kinds of shenanigans. I hope we catch whoever it was in order to send a loud signal that such behavior is intolerable (and definitely not cool).”
Again, the winery is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible. Anyone with information should contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 509-628-0333.