The wine world is no stranger to theft. Intrepid villains have been known to tunnel into cellars for bottles and launch stealth missions into vineyards for the grape stashes. However, the recent theft at a Moët vineyard is like a first: sheep.
As first reported by Champagne’s L’Union, 14 sheep (and a solar panel!) were stolen from an experimental, eco-friendly parcel in Aÿ.
A shepherd tipped off vineyard manager Reynald Loiseau to the Wallace and Gromit-esque heist. Loiseau proceeded to investigate and discovered the bandits’ damage.
“It was the shepherd of the Cheval de trait service company who warned me. The solar panel supplying electricity to the fence was also stolen. It is an experimental plot of eco-grazing. It had been four weeks since we started. I’m disappointed,” Loiseau told the paper.
Moët Hennessy previously committed to eliminate chemicals from their entire wine division but the end of the year. The 5-hectare plot Aÿ was part of a pilot program towards that goal. The effort also included a €20 million sustainable viticulture research center in the region.
The, sheep, specifically were grazed to keep down weeds and grass. However, with the entire herd missing, the project is on hold.
“The facts oblige us for the moment to stop the experiment. We allow some time for reflection before making a decision,” said Loiseau.
“Eco-grazing eliminates chemical treatments, but also avoids tillage, which on steep plots facilitates ravining. This is all the more essential and protective when the plots are located near inhabited areas. It’s a shame.”