From soaring popularity to rumored shortages, Prosecco has bubbled up into the news on a regular basis in recent years. The now-ubiquitous Italian sparkler is big business in Italy — over 355 million bottles were produced in 2015 — which has inevitably attracted criminals. Their scam? Stealing and reselling vines:
The vines are reportedly being stolen to order, with the thieves then selling them onto unscrupulous producers who are setting up new vineyards, often outside the traditional prosecco-producing area of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the rolling hills north of Treviso.
Last week, two men were arrested after stealing 1,600 newly-planted vines, worth several thousand euros, from two vineyards near the villages of Pagnano d’Asolo and Monfumo.
The men – one a student and the other a cook – sold them for a paltry 500 euros to a middle-man, who then sold them to a wine estate near the city of Padua. All three were identified and arrested by Carabinieri police less than 24 hours later.
While the police chase down thieves, Prosecco producers have begun to take matters into their own hands:
Some estate owners have resorted to spraying young vines with coloured dye to make them easier to identify if they are stolen. Others are building fences and installing security cameras, but that is an extremely costly option, particularly for larger vineyards.
One exasperated prosecco producer near the village of Farra di Soligo, who found his vineyard stripped bare of 800 young vines, nailed a hand-drawn sign to a tree: “Dear thief, I bought my vines. It would have been much better if you had bought yours too.”
Read more at The Telegraph.