Winemaker who's entire crop was stolen faces yet another obstacle


MONTGOMERY Co., Va. (WSET) -- The owners of Firefly Hill Vineyards say they were shocked and devastated when their entire crop was stolen over night.

They say some good has come out of the theft. An unbreakable bond between two families on different sides of the country has been created.

David Dunkenberger and his wife never expected the response they got after their crop was stolen, especially from someone all the way in Washington state.

The owners of Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Washington heard about the heist and reached out on Facebook to offer their own harvest.

"We initially said thank you we just don’t know what we were doing," said Dunkenberger. "I think we were probably both in shock."

After talking more and more, they said the exchange just felt right.

"Next thing you know I'm on a plane out to Washington," Dunkenberger said.

Dunkenberger recently returned from his trip to Alexandria Nicole Cellars to pick grapes to remedy their loss.

While there he was able to pick 2.5 tons of grapes to take back to Virginia.

But now, they've faced another roadblock.

"We are a class A winery," he said. "So what that means is that 51 percent of our grapes have to come from our property."

Those regulations come from Virginia ABC regulations.

Additionally, only 25 percent of their grapes can come from out of state.

Which means that for now, they can only ship a quart of the juice they harvest back to Virginia.

“Time is a little bit sensitive because they need to get it out here,” Dunkenberger said.

Luckily, ABC has been working with the Dunkenbergers.

They have to get a waiver from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying that because of the theft, they can source the grapes from elsewhere.

But the whole situation is very time sensitive.

"If it doesn’t work out and we don’t get the permit to be able to get the grapes in, the gesture was priceless.” he said.

Regardless, the two winery owners have started a new friendship.

Both winemakers say now, they want to pay it forward. They plan on donating a portion of each bottle sold to farm-aid to help farmers across the country.

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