Allison Dunkenberger, the co-owner of Firefly Hill Vineyards, says they are devastated and in a “grieving process” after someone who obviously knew something about their operations stole 2.5 tons of grapes from their 2,500 vines. The crime happened overnight on Monday this week.

Her husband, David Dunkenberger, told the Washington Post the theft occurred on the night before their eight members of staff were going to harvest the grapes. It was almost entirely their whole harvest that was cut from the vines and stolen.

Someone with knowledge of winery operations

Allison is sure the thief, or thieves, knew about their winery operations in Elliston, Virginia. This is especially as the grapes were stolen on the eve of the actual harvest. In a post on the winery’s Facebook page, Allison said the thieves were “quick and efficient” adding they were “pathetic pieces of excrement.” She said they can’t wrap their heads around the whole incident.

As reported by NBC4 Washington, her husband David was more forceful in his words for the “cowardly human scum” that committed the theft. He went on to wish them a slow and agonising death for what they did. He said he hopes a kind person would then give the grape thieves a glass of wine so they know why they are suffering.

The family live around a 10-minute drive from the vineyard. David said his daughter had taken grape samples on Sunday, leading to the family’s decision to harvest them on Tuesday.

He arrived at the vineyard on Monday to find everything was gone.

David told the Washington Post that he estimates it would have taken his own labourers 12 hours to harvest the grapes and properly process them. He theorised that the thieves likely took less time to steal his crop. Dunkenberger said if they were cutting the vines, it would have taken them around six hours.

Huge loss for the winery

With the stolen grapes and the supplies, labour and lost potential for wine sales, the winery owners estimate their loss to be around $50,000 (₤38,255). What makes matters even worse is that their insurance policy doesn’t cover them for theft of their crop. Dunkenberger does suspect the thieves will try to sell the stolen grapes somewhere far from Elliston. David also doubts the thieves will try to sell the grapes to another winery.

He went on to say he can handle the loss of a crop to Mother Nature, but when someone steals their eight months’ worth of work, it is very disheartening.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department in Christiansburg, Virginia are investigating the theft, but they say for them, this is something entirely new. Spokesman Capt. Brian Wright said they have had cases of plants being stolen, like ornamental trees, but never a huge crop stolen from its owner.