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09.23.2010

The Wine Super Villain Strikes

250px-Luthor_bright.pngSeems like every few months the news carries the story of some wine theft. Whether it's a mentally ill woman stealing wine from a gas station mini mart, or high profile thefts of bottles worth thousands of dollars, the concept is pretty well understood. Sneak in or break in, grab some bottles, and make a run for it.

Given how common wine theft is, I'm not sure whether it's the sign of a mastermind or a madman when someone steals the grapes before they're even made into wine.

Maybe what we're dealing with here is a wine Super Villain -- some sort of hybrid between Michel Rolland, Magneto, and Dr. Evil -- a guy that can pull grapes off the vine with his mind, levitate them into a tank, and micro-oxygenate them while cackling wildly about how tannin management is the key to world domination. I can totally imagine that.

We know he must have some super powers, because stealing 2000 pounds of ripe Mourvedre even under the cover of the night is pretty difficult to do without getting caught. You gotta back up a truck and fill a hell of a lot of plastic tubs with grapes. And you gotta do it without ruining the grapes, which would, of course, ruin your master plan.

Like most super villains, however, this one seems not to have counted on the small, small world that is Washington state wine. The number of people who make Mourvedre from Washington is pretty small, as are the number of people that might be in the market to buy the grapes, if that were the intention of the thieves. They won't even be as easy to get rid of (or make wine with) as, say, a world famous painting, which probably has a lot more private, clandestine buyers than this small parcel of Mourvedre.

I'm quite sorry to hear that Syncline Cellars won't be getting the grapes they planned on, because their wines are pretty great, and they're a tiny little producer who doesn't make a lot of wine. And I'm sure the grower could have used that revenue in tough times.

But who knows, maybe the grapes will be discovered mid-ferment somewhere and all will not be lost. My bet: perpetrators will be caught either within the month or when the wine they make with it hits the market.

Read the full story.

Comments (7)

1WineDude wrote:
09.24.10 at 5:40 AM

I've got admit, I'd never even considered grapes being a black-market item! Too freaky.

Now, when someone walks off with one of the trendy new concrete egg fermenters, *then* I will be truly impressed!

Chris wrote:
09.24.10 at 6:09 AM

This is in my backyard and I can't really fathom how anyone thinks they can make wine with these grapes and get it to a market without getting caught, or sale the grapes or wine in any way that gets them anything more than the WAGG base price for generic wine grapes. Not only is mourverdre production tiny in WA, Red Mountain Mourvedre is even tinier, and the real value here is having the RM AVA on the label.

The worst thing is that Ryan Johnson is one of the nicest, most stand up guys you'd ever want to meet and his sweat in that vineyard is evident to anyone looking at the insane way it is grown. I hope Ryan gets his day in court.

Buy Grand Reve wines! And Syncline too!

shannon wrote:
09.26.10 at 12:11 AM

2000 pounds of graps is a huge amount. A lot of people must have been involved in order to get them picked. Who ever u are, deserve to get caught, sent to jail and forced to drink box wine for the rest of your life!

rs wrote:
09.26.10 at 1:28 PM

I quickly checked my calendar. No, it definitely was NOT April 4. I had never heard of Syncline Cellars. So thanks.

Winepiper wrote:
09.26.10 at 11:22 PM

Well if the piñas used to make tequila are stolen and sold on the black market...why not grapes? It truely is a strange "new" world we live in...

Jeff V wrote:
09.26.10 at 11:23 PM

I believe in wine karma. Whomever stole those grapes will be forced to drink 2BC, box wine is not a strong enough punishment.

This person will be caught.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
09.30.10 at 3:57 PM

As tongue in cheek as the suggestion of a super villain is, I may not have been far off. Apparently there are concerns that this theft and several others in Europe are the work of some sort of organized crime ring (OK, so it's the Telegraph, so we have to take the suggestion with a grain of salt). But interesting. Wine mafia? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/wine/8034602/Prime-French-vineyards-left-bare-after-wine-mafia-strikes.html

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