Winery Owner Wishes 'Painful Death' on Grape Thieves

Virginia's Firefly Hill Vineyards say nearly its entire harvest was stolen overnight Monday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2018 8:02 AM CDT
Winery Owner Wishes 'Painful Death' on Grape Thieves
A file photo of grapes on the vine.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

A family-run Virginia winery is indefinitely closed and in the "grieving process" after a theft that stripped it of nearly all its grapes. Allison Dunkenberger, co-owner of Firefly Hill Vineyards in Elliston, tells the Roanoke Times that someone she thinks "knew something about the winery's operations" came onto the property overnight Monday, then cut and removed up to 2.5 tons of grapes from 2,500 vines. The theft came the night before a staff of eight was to harvest the same grapes, husband David Dunkenberger tells the Washington Post. "Quick, efficient, multiple, pathetic pieces of excrement," a post on the vineyard's Facebook page called the pilferers. All that's now left of Firefly Hill's inventory: not even 200 pounds of grapes. "We still can't wrap our heads around this," Allison Dunkenberger says.

David Dunkenberger put it more forcefully in his rebuke of "the pieces of cowardly, human scum" behind the theft. "May you die a slow and agonizingly painful death so that when you are writhing in pain someone will be kind enough to offer you a drink of wine so you know for what you suffer," he wrote. Between the grapes themselves, as well as the labor, supplies, and lost sales potential, the Dunkenbergers estimate they're out about $50,000, and Allison Dunkenberger says their insurance doesn't include coverage for crop theft. David Dunkenberger says he suspects whoever took the grapes will try to sell them far away from Elliston. "I can handle losing a crop to Mother Nature, but to ... steal what we've worked for for eight months, that's disheartening," he says. Police are investigating. (In Canada, someone stole 20,000 cases of beer.)

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