Vine Thief

Chanhassen, Minnesota.  University of Minnesota test fields.  Dead of night.

A chill and a hush descended over the grapevines.  Not even a bird could be heard warbling, nor a nematode nipping at the roots in the soil.  The moon beams glistened on the small berries and you could practically smell the grapes in the air.  But all was not well…

Silently, and with delicate footsteps, an intruder entered the vineyard.  A glint of moonlight caught a piece of metal, and for a moment the vines collectively breathed a nervous inhalation.  With the precision and knowledge of a regular on this plot of land, the figure in black stealthily made its way to the vines on the outer perimeter.

vine shearsPausing for a moment, he met eye to plant with his prey and then, he too, breathed a quick, nervous inhalation.  There was no turning back now.  And after giving a quick look over the shoulder, the thief expertly wielded a pair of pruning shears, and with the skill of an assassin, quickly removed five to six cuttings from the prized victims.

With another quick move, the cuttings were stashed in a knapsack, the shears were sheathed and the intruder had hopped the fence.  In an instant, it was over.  And a vineyard lie violated by an unseen, unknown botanist ninja.

But this was not just any vineyard.  The University of Michigan fields at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are home to thousands of grapevines; a test tube for the future, if you will.  An outdoor lab where years of work go into developing vines that can withstand disease, frost or crawly nasties that normally befell the heartiest of vines.

And sometime around October 20th, vines from six plants were stolen in the dead of night.  But these weren’t any old grapevines.

Picture by Jennifer Simonson, Star Tribune

Photo by Jennifer Simonson, Star Tribune

The clippings were from a special cross of vine designed to stand up to the harsh conditions of Minnesota, and they were the representation of years of Peter Moe’s work.  But now somewhere in a dark, dank laboratory, its clippings are being cloned and an evil viticulturist laughed in the night.

Who is this masked man (or woman)?  How did they know which vines to target?  How did they escape undetected?  Were they wearing a ninja outfit?

Police suspect a former employee.  I, personally, suspect Batman.  Rumor has it, he just can’t get enough of that Minnesota Frontenac.

These questions continue to haunt the University of Michigan and to keep Peter Moe awake at night…


2 Responses to “The Minnesota Vine Thief”

  1. I’ve been reading a few posts and really and enjoy your writing. I’m just starting up my own blog and only hope that I can write as well and give the reader so much insight.

  2. Hey Burton, much thanks for the kind words and all the best on your blog. Keep on writing and drinking the good juice.

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