NEWS » Prosecco now so popular vines are being stolen

Prosecco now so popular vines are being stolen

The boom of prosecco in 2015, which saw a production of 355 million bottles, has been unexpectedly threatened by thieves, who have stolen newly-planted vines on the Venetian hills and those of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, where prosecco is produced.

 

The prosecco is made from the Glera grape variety and its market is worth more than 1.7 billion euros a year.  Around 70 per cent of the production is sold abroad, Britain being the most important market, taking 35 per cent of all exports, followed by the US and Germany.

The winemakers’ governing body, The Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco, gave permission for another 3,000 hectares to be planted, in addition to the existing 30,000 hectares of vineyards.

 

It seems the vines are being stolen to order, and the thieves sell them to unscrupulous producers in order for them to set up new vineyards, usually in the hills north of Treviso, and not in the traditional prosecco area that is Conegliano and Valdobbiadene which is almost all occupied.

In lower parts of Veneto thousands of plants are needed because they have only just started to produce prosecco. Unscrupulous wine makers have probably commissioned someone to steel the vines.  

 

Near the villages of Pagnano d’Asolo and Monfumo Last week, two men were arrested after having stolen 1,600 newly-planted vines, worth several thousand euros.

 

The thieves, a student and a cook, sold the vines for only 500 euros to a middle-man, who later sold them to a wine estate near the city of Padua. The Carabinieri arrested all three of them 24 hours later.

 

One hundred vines were stolen also from the two vineyards belonging to Stefano Zanette, the president of the prosecco consortium.

 

The increasing thefts are being investigated by the Italian police and Forestry Corps which deal with crimes in rural areas.

 

Long-standing prosecco producers have the impression that the thefts are being carried out by dishonest entrepreneurs trying to break into the sector.

 

Stealing vines is the act of real delinquents and harvests are being ruined and incomes decreased by these thefts.

 

Some estate owners are building fences and installing security cameras but it proves to be a very expensive option. Others have chosen to spray young vines with coloured dye to make them easier to identify if they are stolen.  

 

The vine robbers have very little time at their disposal, due to the fact that after ten days the plants put down strong roots and if they are ripped up from the ground they usually die.   

Giulia Lombardo

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