9 February 2023 Exciting news! The Old Vine Conference has launched the inaugural Old Vine Hero Award 'to recognise the dedication, tenacity, talents and in some cases the life work of those working with old vines and their wines'. You can nominate anyone (individual or organisation, including yourself or your own organisation) who is committed and very involved in working to preserve or champion old vines in any way. More information can be found on the Old Vine Conference website, and the link to the entry form is here. Entry is free, but note that the closing date is Sunday 19 February 2023, so get nominating! We've chosen to republish our guide to old-vines coverage for Throwback Thursday to celebrate this fantastic initiative. For the most up-to-date version of our Old Vines Register, follow this link.
26 September 2022 Rather to our surprise, we realise we have now published more than 40 articles about old vines, plus all those that were part of last year's wine writing competition with its old-vine theme. We also have nearly 200 articles tagged 'old vines', in which these amazing heritage vineyards play a starring role. Below we present a guide to all those published so far, and we will continue to add to it.
Julian Leidy* writes As the articles in our current old-vine wines series demonstrate, from Germany to Australia, America to Lebanon, South Africa to Portugal, and in many other places, old vines have a significant impact on viticulture and winemaking. They're an irreplaceable part of viticultural history and heritage. Their yields are lower, thereby producing wines of remarkable concentration and intensity (reduced productivity can, admittedly, pose financial drawbacks for winemakers). They are well-suited to the harsh terroirs of places like the volcanic, ashy Mount Etna, the rocky Bekaa Valley, or desert-like Priorat. They are more resilient to heatwaves and drought, which makes them far more capable of withstanding the ravages and volatility of climate change. Tamlyn's recent article on how old vines have been responding to the heatwaves in Europe demonstrates how important old vines are for the wine industry's ability to adapt to climate change.
Many readers might find a bit of background information on old vines useful. The age at which old vines (vielles vignes in France, viñas viejas in Spain) qualify as old can differ from country to country. However, 30–35 years tends to be when a vine is considered 'old', as it is around this age that the productivity of the vine decreases noticeably.
In South Africa, the Old Vine Project (which defines old vines as older than 35 years) functions as a regulatory body that certifies old-vine wines. In Australia, where many of the world's oldest vines can be found, the Barossa Old Vine Charter outlines four age classifications: Old Vine (at least 35 years old), Survivor Vine (at least 70 years old), Centenarian Vine (at least 100 years) and Ancestor Vine (at least 125 years old). Projects to advocate for old vines have also been developed in Chile and Lodi.
Meanwhile, the Old Vine Conference has been established to promote dialogue around, awareness of, and advocacy for old vines. Our own Old Vines Register seeks to provide a catalogue of old vines around the world, and our old-vine wine series seeks to highlight the admirable efforts of vintners around the world to care for and cultivate these vines.
The development of these institutions, regulations, and initiatives indicates a growing recognition of the significance of old vines. This is of great importance, as old vines have historically been the victims of many problems. Some were natural, such as phylloxera, while others, such as schemes to pull up old vines in favour of more productive young vines or other plants entirely, were our own doing. In the future, we need to preserve and respect our old vines, not just because they are part of the heritage and past of winemaking, but because they are essential to wine's future. Our old-vine wines series illustrates some of the steps that are being taken around the world to do just that.
Below are the articles that have been published so far in our old-vine wines series (more will be added as they are published), as well as general articles on old vines and old-vine wines and articles on old vines divided by their particular countries. The articles in each section are listed in descending order of publication, with the most recently published at the top.
Our old-vine wines series
Old-vine wines – part 9 the rest of Italy (Tasting article) 10 October 2022
Old-vine wines – part 8 the rest of France (Tasting article) 3 October 2022
Old-vine wines series – part 7 Refosco di Faedis (Tasting article) 26 September 2022
Old-vine wines – part 6 Roussillon (Tasting article) 12 September 2022
Old-vine wines – part 5 Languedoc (Tasting article) 5 September 2022
Old-vine wines – part 4 Iberia (Tasting article) 29 August 2022
Old-vine wines – part 3 Chile and Argentina (Tasting article) 22 August 2022
Old-vine wines – part 2 South Africa (Tasting article) 15 August 2022
Old-vine wines – part 1 Lebanon (Tasting article) 8 August 2022
General articles on old vines and old-vine wines
Old Vine Registry launched (Free for all) 28 June 2023
Old Vine Hero 2023 - announcing the winner (Free for all) 16 March 2023
Old vines dig deep in the heatwave (Free for all) 1 August 2022
Planning for the future (Inside information) 25 July 2022
Our guide to all of the entries in our WWC21 competition on old vines (Free for all) 26 July 2021
The judges' selection for the winner of our 2021 wine writing competition on old vines: WWC21 – Evangelho, California (Free for all) 30 August 2021
And the winner of our WWC21 competition's popular vote: WWC21 – Mr Toutousanis' vineyard, Greece (Free for all) 31 July 2021
Save the stumps (Free for all) 10 April 2021
Our unique Old Vines Register (Free for all) 28 November 2019
MW Symposium – sustaining the vine and the planet (Inside information) 9 July 2018
Old vines, fine wines (Tasting article) 4 October 2013
World heritage in the vineyard (Free for all) 2 June 2010
Also see this thread on our forum: Really old vines? (Forum discussion)
Passalacqua the vine preserver (Free for all) 10 June 2023
Heading east to old vines (Tasting article) 6 June 2023
Support Lodi's Save The Old campaign (Free for all) 20 January 2021
The Argentine wine revolution (Free for all) 7 March 2020
Chile rediscovers her old vines (Inside information) 16 October 2013
Australian old-vine Grenache – the next chapter (Tasting article) 25 May 2023
Henschke's single-vineyard 2017s (Tasting article) 28 March 2022
The old vines of McLaren Vale (Tasting article) 14 February 2022
Henschke's 2016s, and a new approach for Australia (Tasting article) 2 April 2021
Australia – the great doing good (Tasting article) 14 August 2019
The oldest vines in the world? (Tasting article) 4 February 2010
Project Loire – reds and pinks (Tasting article) 22 February 2021
Project Loire – Chenin Blanc (Tasting article) 15 February 2021
2015 white burgundies, and old-vine problems (Free for all) 14 January 2017
Campania's 120-year-old vines (Inside information) 20 March 2009
Young Turks and old vines (Free for all) 6 July 2022
Cyprus's vineyard treasure trove (Free for all) 11 May 2017
So what do South African old-vine wines taste like? (Tasting article) 16 August 2023
A winner's ode to old vines (Free for all) 15 August 2023
The Cape's fighting spirit (Free for all) 26 February 2022
Bellingham, The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region (Wines of the week) 1 October 2021
South Africa's old-vine marvels (Tasting article) 25 October 2017
A Cape road trip (Free for all) 7 February 2015
Spain and Portugal
Susana Esteban's Portuguese old-vine treasures (Tasting article) 26 June 2023
Portugal's old-vine heritage (Tasting article) 25 April 2023
Save the Douro (Free for all) 23 April 2022
More from Portugal (Tasting article) 2 February 2021
Méntrida – Garnacha and more (Tasting article) 26 June 2019
Calatayud – worth checking out (Tasting article) 28 February 2019
Save Spain's old vines and Garnacha (Free for all) 5 May 2018
Tenerife – island of wine (and historic) discoveries (Free for all) 18 January 2018
Heart-breakingly pure Cariñena (Tasting article) 24 February 2016
Garnacha – now the height of fashion (Tasting article) 18 November 2015
*Intern at JR.com summer/autumn 2022.
Main image: ungrafted Monastrell vines in a vineyard in Jumilla. Republished from a Tweet by Bodegas Olivares, with their kind permission.