Within a 14-hour span, David Dunkenberger says, about 2.5 tons of grapes disappeared from his vineyard in Elliston, Virginia.
Dunkenberger said his wife, Allison Dunkenberger, left the Firefly Hill Vineyards, which she co-owns with him, on Monday at 5 p.m. and he returned by Tuesday at 7 a.m, according to WFXR.
When they went to check out the produce on Tuesday morning, David Dunkenberger said, he was shocked at what he saw.
“I just stopped and started walking though the vineyard and noticed that the crop was gone,” he told WSET.
That means someone must have stolen them between the time his wife left and he returned, he told WXFR.
David Dunkenberger said that the stolen grapes were worth about $20,000 as they were — but could have brought in about $50,000 once they became wine, according to WSET. He said the thieves probably came at night and were part of a larger group that could haul the grapes away.
The sudden loss was a a shock, he said.
“Disbelief,” he told WFXR. “I mean, how could it be anything but disbelief?”
Allison Dunkenberger likened it to losing a loved one.
“We still can’t wrap our heads around this … We’re just in the grieving process,” she said, according to The Roanoke Times.
The vineyard posted a status about the nighttime heist on its Facebook page. It described the thieves as “quick, efficient, multiple, pathetic pieces of excrement.”
“What hurts the most is what they stole from my spirit and heart. The vineyard was a family experience,” the Facebook status said. “My daughters grew up in that vineyard. My family and friends helped me in that vineyard. Most importantly I spent time in that vineyard with my father. Cherished memories spoiled by a bunch of low life, no soul, heartless excuses for human beings.”
Even though he lost up to 1,800 liters of wine, David Dunkenberg said he was also robbed of that chance to see the fruit of his labor, according to WXFR.
“The experience — you know you spend a lot of time out in that vineyard,” he told the TV station. “It’s hot, it’s buggy, it’s sweaty... as corny as it sounds, I’ve got 2,500 kids out there.”
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office told WSET that it is investigating the alleged theft.
Despite the theft, Allison Dunkenberg said in an interview with The Roanoke Times that she and her family will “keep taking care of the vines” that they first planted 12 years ago.
A status on the vineyard’s Facebook didn’t mince words about the situation.
“I hope (the thieves) will read this,” it read. “Please know a slow and lingering death will never be long enough for you, and no amount of pain you could endure will great enough.”