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5,200 bottles of wine stolen in winery heist

Thieves stole more than 5,000 bottles of wine during a July 19 robbery from Blackwood Lane Winery in south Aldergrove.  - submitted photo
Thieves stole more than 5,000 bottles of wine during a July 19 robbery from Blackwood Lane Winery in south Aldergrove.
— image credit: submitted photo

It may be the largest heist of wine in B.C. history and it happened at a south Langley boutique winery.

Sometime in the evening of July 19, thieves broke the lock on the gate of Blackwood Lane Vineyards and Winery and took 10 tonnes of wine.

In all, more than 5,200 bottles of hand-crafted wine from the small but high-end winery were taken, making it a more than $200,000 loss for the owners.

While insurance may cover the financial loss, money can’t replace their product, with the grapes grown in the Okanagan and then put in French barrels and bottled in unique Blackwood label bottles. Most of Blackwood Lane wine is sold at high-end restaurants and some VQA stores.

“To take that much wine is shocking,” said Carlos Lee, owner of Blackwood Lane Winery.

The break-in occurred sometime between 6 p.m. when Lee locked up the premises, and 11 a.m. when he returned to work the next day.

That’s when he found the lock on the gate had been cut.

The culprits stole three pallets of 2007 Alliance, one pallet each of cabernet sauvignon and rose, and one pallet and 16 cases of 2006 Alliance.

The Alliance bordeaux is their signature wine and sells at around $60 per bottle. The theft didn’t decimate their stock of Alliance. But a small run of their cabernet sauvignon was completed wiped out.

“It was very targeted. They seemed to have a lot of knowledge of our location and even the location of the security cameras,” said Lee.

The pallets were left behind so that means the thieves had to take out each box of wine and load them onto a truck.

Lee said for that amount to leave the vineyard they would have to have a specialty truck.

Lee is offering a $25,000 reward that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators. He’s hopeful for the return of his wine.

“They are going to have a hard time finding a buyer. We are making it difficult for them to move our wine,” said Lee.

He said a restaurant wouldn’t buy it without checking with them first.

In the meantime, the vineyard security is being stepped up.

Lee said he’s talked to many people in his industry and this large of heist is unheard of. In fact, thefts at wineries are fairly uncommon, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Langley RCMP at 604 532-3200.

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