The winner of the inaugural Old Vine Hero Award was announced last night at the first Old Vine Conference Community Dinner, during Old Vine Week.
Belinda Stone, consultant head of marketing for the Old Vine Conference, told me that they had 4,029 votes for the 2023 Old Vine Hero from the shortlist of eight nominees. On 15 March, at a lively dinner at Brasserie Blanc in London showcasing some fabulous old-vine wines, Sarah Abbott MW, co-founder of The Old Vine Conference, announced that the winner of the award is Dr Laura Catena, 'for her longstanding commitment to promoting and protecting the future of Old Vine Malbec in Argentina and for her work at the Catena Institute preserving massal and clonal selections of Argentine pre-phylloxeric Malbec, assuring that Argentina's extraordinary old vine genetic diversity is not lost.'
The prize is an invitation to speak about her work with old vines at The Old Vine Conference 2023, taking place virtually on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 October, as well as one year's honorary membership of The Old Vine Conference Community.
Dr Laura Catena is the founder of the Catena Institute of Wine and the managing director of Catena Zapata, Luca Wines and Domaine Nico. Catena is no stranger to JancisRobinson.com – her name, her wines and her work pop up with positive regularity. However, it was her sister Adrianna Catena who gave us an insider glimpse into the story of Catena's work with old vines, beautifully told in an entry for our 2021 Wine Writing Competition (WWC21) on their Angélica Vineyard.
Catena commented, 'When I started working in wine in the 1990s it seemed like old vines were mostly valued in Europe. Then I found that we had thousands of hectares of old Malbec vines in Argentina which were in the process of being pulled out for replanting. I am an emergency doctor by training, and I can recognise an emergency when I see one. I set out to make wine from these beautiful old vineyards and then to preserve their genetically diverse massal selections. The Old Vines Conference has done so much to increase awareness of old vines around the world, and I am extremely grateful for their work and to be receiving the Old Vine Hero Award.'