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Alsace: viticultural ‘terrorist’ at large

Three Alsace vineyards have been heavily vandalised in apparently motiveless attacks across a two-month period.

Audrey and Christian Binner, organic wine producers based in Ammerschwihr, three miles northwest of Colmar, were the latest victims in a series of attacks in the area.

Over the weekend of 10-13 September, vandals entered the prestigious Kaeffer-Kopf vineyard parcelle owned by the Binners and cut around 1,500 Gewurtztraminer vines at their base.

Although considerable damage was caused, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

‘We had no warning, no threats, nothing,’ Audrey Binner told decanter.com. ‘The vines were 20 years old or more. It will take at least four years before we can produce anything there. We feel really angry; this is pure cowardice. This is a viticultural attack; it’s exactly the same as terrorism.’

Reports suggest the vandal or vandals work in viticulture. The vines were cut at a certain point at the base, making it impossible to properly revive the plant. Diseased vines were left untouched and one report said that a special kind of secateur was used.

The gendarmerie confirmed that two other properties, one in Eguisheim and one also in Ammerschwihr, were vandalised over the nights of 2-3 August and 3-4 August respectively.

Although unable to comment on the progress of the investigation, a spokesman for the gendarmerie’s Kaysersberg brigade, currently conducting the investigation, confirmed that there were common elements in all attacks.

‘The vines were cut below the graft, in each case around 1,300 to 1,500 vines are cut and in an area corresponding to around 40 ares,’ he said.

Although it is quite normal for disputes to occur in the world of winemaking, the scale of the attacks has surprised many.

‘It’s always been around, especially where neighbouring vines are concerned but normally its a question of a few vines,’ said a spokeswoman for the Alsace wine trade body, the CIVA. ‘The extent of these attacks is something different and of course we deplore these actions.’

100 ares = 1 hectare

Written by Oliver Styles

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