Burgundy Vineyard Held Hostage for 1M Euros

A decent bottle of Domaine Romanée-Conti costs about $10,000. A prized vintage has been auctioned for upwards of $100,000. Wines from “The Domaine” in Burgundy have cult status amongst collectors who can afford them, and, in 2010, were the victims of an unlikely hostage situation. This is the subject of recent book release Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter.

Summarized at the New York Post, the true thriller documents the plan, cooked up by bank robber Jacques Soltys who hid in a hole in the DRC vineyards as he slowly documented its plots, and then drilled hundreds of holes in the vines, even killing a couple with herbicides. In return for leaving the vines in peace, he demanded a ransom of 1 million euros from the vineyard’s owner Aubert de Villaine in a ransom note containing detailed maps of the DRC plots. Eventually France’s Police Nationale uncovered the culprit when he appeared to retrieve the cash drop in a cemetery not far from the vineyards. Unarmed and unsuspecting, Soltys arrived expecting a clean getaway; he was arrested. Before sentencing, he hanged himself in his prison cell. 

A review by Business Insider laments that “the gripping part of the book’s narrative ends there,” determining that the remainder of the tale is dedicated to a romantic account of Burgundian process complete with embellishments of Potter’s “characters’ actions and inner thoughts.” 

Despite the dramatic turn of events and Potter’s oddly disconnected documentation of them, Domaine Romanée-Conti comes out on top; 2010 was a good year. [New York Post, Business Insider] [Photo: Flickr/Charley]