More on our 2021 writing competition

Old vines in Napa via Simonit & Sirch

You don't have to be a writer to play a part in our old-vine initiative.

We’re thrilled that the response to this year’s writing competition has been so positive. The theme is old vines. We’re looking for accounts of particularly old vineyards or parcels of vines and we spell out the rules again below.

But you don’t have to write an article to make a contribution to our and the Old Vine Conference’s campaign to preserve the world’s old-vine treasure. We would be happy to receive any information via editorial@jancisrobinson.com that you may have about old vineyards that are not already in our unique Old Vines Register

We would welcome these facts about the old vineyard or old vines:

  • country
  • region
  • appellation (if applicable)
  • vineyard name (if applicable)
  • year of planting
  • grape variety or varieties
  • owner, with contact details if possible
  • name of any wine(s) made from the grapes
  • any other salient information.

By the way, we are planning to update and redesign this Old Vines Register into a searchable database. If you or anyone you know would relish, and be suitably qualified, for this task, do please get in touch via editorial@jancisrobinson.com.

Our 2021 wine writing competition (WWC21)

What we're looking for is:

An account of an old vineyard, or parcel of old vines – the less well-known the better

It should ideally be a good read rather than an academic treatise, and we encourage you to put the vineyard in a social context as well as a viticultural one. We'd love to know why the vines were kept in the ground so long and the reasons you think they have managed to survive. Any human colour and details of the history of the vineyard would be welcome, as well of course as information on what is planted and what happens and has happened to the grapes.

Rules of the competition

  • Your account can be anything between 500 and 2,000 words long and should not have been published previously.
  • It should be accompanied by at least one copyright-free image in JPG, JPEG, GIF or PNG format that we may publish 1,275 pixels across and 725 pixels high. But feel free to send more than one image, or even a video.
  • Your entry should be sent in a Word document attached to an email, along with your image(s). No other formats will be accepted.
  • Send your entry to editorial@jancisrobinson.com entitled WWC21 followed by your full name in the Subject line.
  • Include a brief description of yourself in the email.
  • The deadline for entries is 30 June 2021.
  • It can be about your own vineyard, or a vineyard in which you have a commercial interest, but you must declare this up front.
  • The vines must have been planted before 1980.
  • You may submit more than one article, each one separately, please.
  • By submitting your entry you are giving us the right to publish it as we see fit.

We will not accept entries after 30 June 2021 and we intend to publish the best entries in July and August, announcing the winner(s) in early September.

The Old Vine Conference is presenting the most wonderful prize for our competition. They will fly the winner out to South Africa in October 2022, pandemic permitting. The winner will be taken on a three-day tour of certified heritage vineyards meeting growers and winemakers, and tasting wine, dates to be mutually agreed. Economy flights, travel, accommodation and meals in South Africa are included. Sarah Abbott MW adds, 'we realise that’s quite a lot of looking forward to be done, so we will in the meantime (at an agreed date this year) host a virtual tasting featuring some great old-vine wine for the winner too'.

(Wine writer Tim James of Cape Town points out that there should be a decent alternative for a winner who happens to be based in South Africa anyway, and Sarah Abbott MW promises to rise to the challenge should that happen.)

Other prizes will include magnums of the Geyserville old-vine field blend from Ridge Vineyards of California, who have been supporters and curators of some of their state's rich array of old vines for decades, and some rather special secateurs, an important tool in prolonging the life of a vine – or your roses perhaps?

This year there will also be a people's vote for the best entry. So we would encourage you to read as many of them as possible once we start publishing them in July.

We look forward very much to receiving this year's entries and hope that this year's competition will be as illuminating and entertaining as those in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and all the way back to our first writing competition in 2014.

Image of ancient Napa vines courtesy of master pruners Simonit & Sirch.