Thieves pillage seven tonnes of grapes from Bordeaux vineyards

At least seven tonnes of grapes were stolen in the dead of night from vineyards in France's prime winegrowing region of Bordeaux after a yield hit by poor weather, police say.

Thieves pillage seven tonnes of grapes from Bordeaux vineyards
Photo: AFP

Three vineyards have had grapes and even whole vines stolen since mid-September, police told AFP on Wednesday.

They said about six and a half tonnes of grapes disappeared from a vineyard in Genissac near the world-famous Saint Emilion region, adding that the theft was clearly committed by professional vintners.

Between 600 and 700 kilogrammes (1,300 and 1,500 pounds) of grapes were stolen from a vineyard in Pomerol, which produces top quality reds.

Thieves also uprooted 500 vines from a vineyard in nearby Montagne, police said.

A fourth grape robbery took place in Lalande-de-Pomerol, according to a local press report.

Thieves making away with grapes is not a new phenomenon but it has surged this year apparently because of a disastrous yield.

“There's a great temptation to help oneself from (the vineyard) next door,” an industry expert told AFP on condition of anonymity.

France faces its poorest wine harvest since 1945 after an unusually mild March and frosty April, experts said last month, although a hot summer promises to deliver top vintages.

The agriculture ministry said output was expected to total 37.2 million hectolitres (983 million US gallons), 18 percent less than 2016 and 17 percent below the average over the past five years.

The 2016 harvest was already one of the poorest in 30 years.

This year, bitter cold struck twice within a week in April, ravaging the fragile shoots and buds that had emerged prematurely following mild temperatures in March.

To combat the frost, nervous Bordeaux winemakers set fires in oil drums, then positioned them carefully between the rows of budding grapevines. Giant fans were also deployed to battle the cold, damp air settling on the plants.

At the prestigious Vinexpo wine fair in Bordeaux in June, winemakers brainstormed over how to mitigate challenges to their livelihood posed by climate change.


French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

French Border police at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris shot - and killed - man who was wielding a knife in the public area of the airport on Wednesday.

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

Border police reportedly shot a man with aggressive behaviour who brandished a knife in the public area of the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris, on Wednesday morning, police and airport sources told AFP.

“This morning officers neutralised a threatening individual in possession of a knife at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport,” the Paris police department said on its Twitter account.

A source close to the investigation told BFMTV that the man – who was likely homeless – went towards the officers, despite being asked several times to put the knife down. In response, police shot the man in the abdomen, and the individual later died.

The incident took place in the busy, public area of terminal 2F around 8:20 am, when “a homeless man started bothering security agents and border police were called in to remove him”.

Initially the man left while yelling curses but he soon returned and brought out a knife, when one of the officers fired his weapon.

An AFP photographer who witnessed the scene said “a large person of colour brandished something that looked like a knife at the police”.

“He was ordered to stop but kept advancing toward them, and an officer fired a single shot.”

The man was quickly put on a stretcher and evacuated, the photographer said. 

Security forces have been on high alert for terrorist attacks since a wave of jihadist killings that have killed more than 250 people since 2015, often by so-called “lone wolves” who often target police.