Winemakers blamed for grape thefts

An estimated seven tonnes of grapes have been taken from vineyards in Bordeaux since mid-September

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Desperate winemakers are believed to be behind a spate of grape and vine thefts in Bordeaux.

An estimated seven tonnes of grapes have gone missing from vineyards in the popular wine-making region. Three vineyards have had grapes and vines stolen since mid-September, police told AFP this week.

Most of the loss came in a single theft from a vineyard in Genissac, where six-and-a-half tonnes of grapes were taken. Police said they believe professional vintners were behind the theft.

Another 700kg of grapes were stolen from a vineyard in Pomerol, and thieves also uprooted 500 vines from a vineyard in Montagne, while a fourth robbery was reported in Lalande-de-Pomerol.

Harvests across the region have been hit by poor weather. The entire industry in France is facing what looks set to be its smallest wine harvest since 1945, experts said last month, after April frosts ravaged fragile shoots that had emerged during an unusually mild March. But the hot summer promises to deliver top vintages, they added.

The agriculture ministry said the total expected output was 37.2 million hectolitres, 18% down on 2016.