What Makes Old Vines Special?

Old vines are gnarly, highly revered and tricky. Generally, growers don’t keep old vines because they need more care to protect their fragility and more patience to encourage their limited yield. The advantage of these time-worn hand-harvested vines is that they produce fewer grapes with abundant aromas. They show less fresh fruit and varietal character and more terroir and soil; an ageing vine brings intensity, freshness and an extraordinary sense of place.

These old vines tell beautiful stories of long hot summers, icy cold winters and the families that have tended them over the years and habitually reflect ancient communities of farmers, shepherds and fishermen. The Old Vine Project (OVP), South Africa’s regulatory authority, grades bottles made from vines over 35 years old with the world-first Certified Heritage Vineyards seal.

The seal guarantees consumers the authenticity of the wine grown according to the Old Vine Project viticultural and winemaking guidelines. The seal is a new indicator of provenance to encourage drinkers to engage with the preservation of older vineyards. 

A vine is known as an old vine when it reaches 35 years and older. Experts believe that older vines bring a new vibrance to the history, culture and stories of ancient lands. South Africa boasts 10 vineyards that are over a century old. Old vine wine gives a slightly elevated acidity and lower sugar level so that it can be harvested at the ideal phenolic ripeness, with lower alcohol and the perfect concentration for a mature wine.

The Old Vine Project strives to preserve as many old vines as possible in South Africa, allowing young vines to grow old and not suffer from diseases. Ideally, growers want to save their old wines and plant new ones to create a sustainable viticulture model for new generations of vineyards and their growers.

South Africa boasts vast landscapes, colourful cultures, and a rich wine history with some of the oldest viticultural soils in the world. OVP wines represent fields of green wheat, yellow canola and purply-blue lupins in the Western Cape and the salty air, kelp, sea shells and mountain ranges along the West Coast. The vines reflect ever-changing times, stormy weather and peaceful summer days.

With almost 10,000 acres of vineyards that are over 35 years, OVP aspires to share the benefits of ageing vines and their characterful wines by encouraging preservation through classification and promoting best practices for vineyard management, such as specialised pruning techniques.

Many of the wines associated with the Old Vine Project are exclusive, are from unique vineyard sites and are often limited in quantity. Many stories surround these rare and mystical sites and hold historical value. OVP sealed wines are out of the ordinary and possess sought-after, unique flavour profiles. Those that enjoy these wines become part of the story and enjoy the satisfaction of giving back and promoting the longevity of these treasured wines. 

We love our old vine wines from South Africa and we invite you to explore our cellar for some of these treasures.