Certain cultures have long histories of respecting and even revering their elders, seeking them out for guidance and advice based upon their lifetimes of experience.
America is not one of those cultures, for the most part, although there certainly are exceptions from family to family. However, there does seem to be more generational respect among “wine families,” as the land has long been a powerful form of “connection.”
As we get older, we tend to become more appreciate of older things. In the wonderful world of wine, that tends to be the multi-generation wine estates as well as what we’ve come to call “old vines.”
Just as there is no “legal” definition of “Reserve” when it’s placed on a wine label, there is no specific definition of “old vines.” Yet while we can surmise that a “Reserve” wine is going to be something special for one reason or another, we also make certain assumptions about “old vine” wines — in particular, “Old Vine” Zinfandel.
(The main assumption is that the wine will be highly concentrated and flavorful because older vines produce less fruit, but concentrate aromas and flavors in the grapes.)
While those “Old Vine” Zins are very special wines, the vines that produce their grapes are mere children when compared to what is believed to be the world’s oldest grapevine — and recognized as such by the Guinness Book of World Records.
That vine resides in the Slovenian city of Maribor, where it even has its own museum and its own anthem. It’s believed to be more than 450 years old, and still produces a small amount of Ametovka grapes each year.
To view a picture of the vine and its home, click here: https://www.themayor.eu/en/maribor-is-home-of-the-oldest-grape-vine-in-the-world.
Ametovka is a table grape, not a wine grape, so the resulting wines are quite sweet. Most of the hundred or so bottles produced annually are used for ceremonial gifts, while a few are sold to collectors
About the only way we could ever taste wine made from the grapes grown on that vine would be to know someone who knows someone who knows someone. But even if we never get to do so, it’s good to know that there are people who understand the value of maintaining and proliferating something that has been alive for so long.
Meanwhile, we’ll always have “Old Vine” Zin to enjoy.