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02.10.2011

The Dumbest Austrian Imaginable

It never ceases to amaze me how stupid human beings can get. The latest example of the nadir of our sense and sensitivity? Someone took an axe to one of the world's oldest grapevines, a singular vine thought to be at least 500 years-old and the likely ancestor of the grape variety we know as Gruner Veltliner.

This is the first I've heard of this vine, which was apparently discovered in 2000 outside the village of St. Georgen. As the news story which related it's destruction notes, it had survived several wars, the scourge of phylloxera, droughts, and who knows what else, only to fall victim to some asshole with an axe.

As an aside, I find it a little humorous that someone bothered to estimate the value of the vine at $136,000. Doesn't that imply that someone might have been willing to pay that much for it? Short of one of those silly "adopt-a-vine" programs that thankfully most people have realized aren't worth anyone's time or money, I have a hard time figuring out how you might put a price on what seems to me to be a priceless thing.

On the one hand, we shouldn't get too sentimental about a plant. On the other hand, this thing was definitely a piece of botanical and cultural history. Why anyone would want to destroy it is hard to fathom. It didn't seem to belong to anyone in particular, so the idea that this was the rural Austrian equivalent of slashing someone's tires seems unlikely. It will be interesting to see if they catch the perpetrator, and what the motivation ends up being.

Chances are, however, it was some young drunkard from the region who decided to take out his own personal problems on a symbolic piece of wood that could offer no resistance and the personal satisfaction of having appalled a lot of people.

I'll be drinking some Gruner Veltliner in solidarity shortly.

Read the full story.

Comments (12)

Emily wrote:
02.10.11 at 10:23 PM

It will take me a while to get over this one.

Constance C wrote:
02.11.11 at 6:01 AM

today, we mourn
and drink some GV in it's honor

Tracy wrote:
02.11.11 at 7:22 AM

I never understand our species, but occasionally we do something so senseless and immoral I'm tempted to throw in with global warming and pestilence. This is one of those heart breaking moments.

Vera wrote:
02.11.11 at 10:14 AM

You right, as stupid as it can get. What a shame and loss... I am joining the club and open Gruner Veltliner in its honor! Thanks for mentioning it, seems that I missed the sad news...

02.11.11 at 10:42 AM

Wow. I think a little part of me just died too.

samantha kirkwood wrote:
02.11.11 at 11:29 AM

This is a senseless act, but why do you assume it was an Austrian? Since the creation of the EU, the borders are all open, so it could have been anyone from any EU country, or a tourist from anywhere on earth...maybe even from California. The dissing of Austrians is getting very old.

02.11.11 at 11:50 AM

What a strange juxtaposition to see and feel the elation and triumph of the human spirit in Cairo today against this sad story and how true it is that the world can be changed starting with just one person and how they choose to go through life. I'll be joining you with the GV.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
02.11.11 at 12:21 PM

Samantha,

Given that it was a little village, the vine was unmarked and not exactly a public tourist destination, leads me to think that it was probably a local. But you are correct in pointing out that this is an assumption on my part with no real grounding.

I wasn't aware that there was a trend of dissing Austrians in general. That's unfortunate, and not something I would have thought I would be reinforcing with my rant.

Jason Cohen wrote:
02.11.11 at 3:18 PM

RIP, GrüVe tree.

(I am aware that vines are not trees.) Still, though I jest, this is very sad news. But it may well have the effect of bringing more attention to Grüner Veltliner, which I'm sure the vine would have wanted for its grandgrape.

Chris Lopez wrote:
02.11.11 at 11:27 PM

It amazes me how stupid people can be. Going to open some gruner tomorrow as well.
Off to read the full story, thanks Alder.

Syrahfan wrote:
02.12.11 at 2:35 PM

Very sad. It's so much easier to destroy than create, and those who fall to such temptation deserve all of the contempt of those, both long past and present, who have worked to improve life.

I offer one bit of hope. It's hard to get excellent quality grapes out of a vine. But it's also hard to completely kill a vine. The articles aren't very clear about what was left, but if someone carefully saws off the damaged wood and gives it some TLC a new trunk can possibly be started from the roots.

keegs wrote:
02.14.11 at 9:02 AM

I am surprised that there were no pictures of it before. It would have been wonderful to see

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