On the eve of its annual harvest, Firefly Hill Vineyards had the vast majority of its crop stolen according to owners Allison and David Dunkenberger.
The 12-year-old grape vines planted on three acres of the 36-acre Elliston property held an estimated 2.5 tons of grapes that were to be picked by friends and family beginning Tuesday morning.
Allison said that the grapes had to have been taken Monday night as she was on the property until late afternoon.
She said that she and her husband no longer live on the property, and that fact is common knowledge to many.
“It had to be somebody that knew our schedule,” she said. We don’t have any employees or anything, though. It is a family-run business.”
Allison said that it would have taken her group of 6-8 people multiple days to clear the vines, so she assumes at least a dozen or so people had to be involved in the theft.
The harvest would have been the culmination of eight months of work, and the theft is estimated to have cost the business $50,000 when factoring labor, supplies, crop and lost wine revenue, according to a post by David on the Vineyard’s Facebook page.
“Yes, the financial loss hurts,” he wrote. “What hurts the most is what they stole from my spirit and heart. The vineyard was a family experience. My family and friends helped me in that vineyard. Most importantly, I spent time in that vineyard with my father.”