Maribor, Slovenia, is home to the world’s oldest grapevine still producing fruit.
It is a very resilient plant that dates back to the year 1570, when the city was facing an Ottoman invasion!
But not only, as the Old Vine is the only in the world with its own dedicated museum, the Old Vine House, once part of the city wall.
It grows on the side of this historic building and still produces an annual harvest of around 35 to 55 kg of grapes, enough to produce 15 to 35 liters of wine, which is bottled in special 2.5 dl bottles designed by popular artist Oskar Kogoj.
Only about 100 bottles are produced every year, and most of which are used as a special protocol gift.
The Old Vine bears grapes of the Žametovka or Modra kavčina variety, one of the oldest noble vines in Slovenia.
Historically, the world’s oldest fruit-bearing grapevine was planted in front of the house on Vojašniška street 8 (Vojašniška ulica), towards the end of the Middle Ages when Maribor was facing Ottoman invasion.
Despite growing on the city wall at the time, it somehow managed to survive the heavy fighting that followed, but our hero also survived the frequent fires that occurred during those times because of the vulnerable straw-covered wooden structures.
Around 1870, the phylloxera ravaged Slovenia which spelled catastrophe for wine growers throughout Europe. This parasite, attacking at the roots, killed most vines, but, luckily the mighty Drava river came to the rescue, as the Old Vine’s roots were deep within the banks of the river and there the phylloxera could not survive.
Moreover, during World War II, Allies bombed Maribor and destroyed part of the old city wall.
But the vine, once again, miraculously escaped.
However, the oldest resident of Maribor has had some more difficult times. Since 1963, when the dam was built on the Drava river, serious problems arose for the Old Vine: as the level of the river began to rise to more than three meters, the vine started to die slowly. Luckily, it was noticed by a group of experts from the Institute of Agriculture, which prevented the removal of the vine and the demolition of the house, which had become dilapidated.
Since the restoration of the house and paving of the surrounding area in 1982, the Old Vine has flourished in all its glory.
Today, the vine even has its own vintner who takes care of it, and it is an important part of Maribor, but also the whole of Slovenia’s history and culture.
Grafts of the oldest vine in the world are presented to partner cities and institutions all over the world.
The special wine made from the grapes of The Old Vine every year has been presented to a number of well-known personalities over the years, including Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and actor Brad Pitt, and not only.
Despite the Old Vine House has paintings dating back to the 1600s that show the Old Vine was around back then, official analysis has also confirmed that the world’s oldest grapevine is at least 450 years old, and It was this acknowledgment that won it a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.
Images from web – Google Research