Are old vines always better?

At what age is a vine at its best? When visiting wineries in New World countries you are sometimes surprised. The wine producers there talk about replanting a vineyard after only 20 years. It is considered old. While in France and elsewhere in Europe wine growers speak proudly of their 80-year-old plants and would not consider anything less than 40 years as old. speculates why California’s grapevines are short-lived. Could it be due to irrigation, diseases or that the producers have chosen root-stocks that are not suitable for the climate?

But there are old vines in the New World. California has some vineyards with 100 year old zinfandel and in South Africa you can find both chenin blanc and sémillon with very respectable ages. Are old vines always better? Ask a grower in France and another one in California and maybe you will get different answers.

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A very old vine

A very old vine, copyright BKWine Photography

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4 Comments to Are old vines always better?

  1. Georges Meekers April 20, 2014 at 08:15 #

    The old vine myth has been busted, if you ask me.
    Canopy management is what matters.

    • Per Karlsson April 22, 2014 at 22:22 #

      Perhaps we should start a new series: “busted wine myths”. Could be fun! 😉

  2. Jamie April 23, 2014 at 22:11 #

    We think a good wine is what you like. Its like food. so people who love old vine will surely love them but that does not mean everyone will love it. Its becoming more of a marketing play for wineries these days.

  3. Douglas May 14, 2014 at 00:40 #

    I couldn’t disagree more – the reason that a lot of California growers need to replant after 20 years is that they are pushing the vine more than in other countries where their vine density is much more and each vine is producing less fruit also I think chemical fertilizers play a role as they can be fertilized through a drip system but the soils never changes- I have seen plenty of organic Zinfandel that are over 100 years old producing wonderful wines. I hate the drink what you like issue it is so overplayed – obviously you should drink what you like – However I have lots of friends that drink wine I wouldn’t touch. As far as marketing goes I am no guru however I don’t know many people besides wine geeks which make up a very small percentage of the market place that care about vine age.

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