You might have seen the words ‘old vines’ on labels or heard people mention the phrase - but what does it mean and why should we care?
Old vines are classified as those which are over 35 years old and ideally 50-100 years old. These vines are rare and produce less fruit that is of higher quality.
Also, older vines have a better root system for finding and preserving water. This makes them more drought resistant. The size of the vines and the rootstock means they are often better able to survive the effects of climate change.
Many makers are trying to preserve these old vines and shine a light on them. Whilst we don't know where all the old vines are in the world we do know that old vines are still being ripped out - with new vines (pinot grigio, cab sav, sauvignon etc) being planted because they have higher yields and some older varieties are less popular than they once were.
Sara Abbott MW and cofounder of the Old Vines Conference explains that old vines make such great wines because they offer a balance of intensity and complexity. Sarah is trying to raise awareness globally of old vines - a project which she set up in lockdown and hosted virtually is now coming to life with in-person conferences in October and more recently, the first field trip to Italy.
I was delighted to be asked along and I loved visiting Villa Bogdano where we had an immersive field trip to the ancient vineyards of North East Italy in the Friuli region (which is famous for prosecco). Just 20 minutes from Venice, this winery is certified organic and biodynamic since 1993, sited next to a forest dating back to 1200.
I had the honour of meeting Professor Carlo Petrussi and Professor Mario Fregoni who hosted a masterclass as part of this unique and immersive experience where we also tried wines from other old vines in the region. Such as Lowengang from Alto Adige, Aglianico by Feudi San Gregorio and Teroldego by Azienda Agricola Foradori which helped to demonstrate the beautiful intensity of the old vines.
Huge thanks to Sarah Abbott MW, Old Vines conference team and Domenico Veronese from Villa Bogdano for hosting an incredible wine conference in Italy highlighting the importance of old vines - for me it was truly the trip of a lifetime.