In all the winelands of the world, old vines get proudly mentioned on labels, in many languages. Such is the value everywhere accorded to old vineyards and the wines they produce. But only in one country, South Africa, is it possible for that claim to be certified by the regulatory authority. Here, members of the Old Vine Project (OVP) can now put a Certified Heritage Vineyards seal on bottles of wine made from vineyards of 35 years or older, together with the planting date. This is a guarantee to the consumer of authentic wines grown according to the OVP viticultural and winemaking guidelines.
The OVP seeks to develop the culture of caring for younger vines too, so that they can look forward to a healthy and productive old age and so focus the minds of winegrowers, winemakers and all wine drinkers on the benefits that come with age in vines. Old vines make wines with a unique character. Wines that reflect the vastness of our South African landscape – our harsh climate, our old and sometimes fragile soils, and our complex culture. They reflect the decades of growing in one place, in the unyielding sun, the cold winter rain, the storms and winds, on a mountain, on a plain somewhere and then producing these delicate but powerful wines.
The renewed focus on the quality that old vines wines in South Africa can help to raise the price of grapes in our country and create a sustainable model for the farming community.
Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, highlights the importance of this project:
“It’s no surprise to me that a significant number of my wines and winemakers of the year have an old vine connection, confirming how vital the Old Vine Project is to the South African wine industry and why the country’s heritage vineyards are so unique.”