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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Kim Maxwell

Approximately two tons of Cabernet Sauvignon intended for Delheim's flagship Grand Reserve 2003 were stolen from the Delheim vineyards in Stellenbosch during the night of 1 March. A R2,000 reward and a case of Delheim Grand Reserve have been offered by Victor Sperling of Delheim Wines for relevant information. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are currently selling for R8,500 per ton, and the stolen grapes represent a potential loss in future wine sales of nearly R300,000. Delheim spokesperson Nora Thiel said the suspects probably work in the wine industry, because the illegal harvest was performed by an experienced team, who calculated picking to coincide with optimum ripeness levels. Viticulturist Victor Sperling took a 24 balling reading on Friday, but decided to leave the sugar levels to reach 25. He discovered the stripped vines on Saturday morning. We've had petty theft in the past, and last year somebody took a bit of Shiraz. But this lot brought their own cutters and would've loaded about two or three small trucks worth of grapes. We're talking bushvine Cabernet, which isn't an easy one to pick, either,' said Thiel. Delheim is located in the Simonsberg ward of Stellenbosch. It plans to harvest the block's remaining six tons of Cabernet Sauvignon this week. Stellenbosch Neighbourhood Watch, an unofficial security service, is monitoring the area.