Extremely rare and expensive ice wines stolen

Eric Szeto/Global Okanagan

PEACHLAND — Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery specializes in high-end ice wines, some of which can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

Sunday morning, thieves made off with roughly $30,000 worth of their product, including a 1983 and 1984 Riesling ice wine worth approximately $9,800 and $7,900 respectively.

“So he basically came in through the back door here and somehow they opened it,” said Walter Huber, owner of Hainle Vineyards, as he described the break-in. “They obviously tripped off alarm system so they had very little time to get in here.”

Huber’s winery was featured in a Global Okanagan story about ice wines on Friday. While we can’t be certain there’s a connection, Huber says many of the wines featured in the story were targeted by the thieves.

He believes the one product they were after was a 1978 Riesling, an extremely rare wine, one that has the title of first commercial ice-wine produced in North America. He’s appraised it at $1 million a bottle.

Story continues below advertisement

“They looked for the ’78 ice wine but they couldn’t find it in the safe,” said Huber.

Huber has been snakebitten in recent years. In 2006, one of those rare ’78s was stolen after his vehicle was broken into in the Lower Mainland.

Then last year during the Peachland fires, the historic Hainle vineyard — where the Okangan’s very first ice wine grapes were grown — were destroyed.

For Huber losing these wines isn’t just about the money because he’s insured, it’s about losing an important piece of Okanagan history.

Despite this recent string of bad luck — it isn’t dampening his spirits.

“If they steal wine you make more. That’s all there is too it,” said Huber. “It’s the same thing last year when people asked what would you have done if your winery burnt down. I would have made a better one, bigger one, nicer one make more wines that’s all there is to it.”

Hubert has reported the incident to police. He says security cameras will be installed.