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The Old Vine, the oldest vine in the world

 

In the centre of Maribor, the Old Vine has been growing for over 400 years

The pride of Maribor, Slovenia, and global wine culture.

Can you imagine what this esteemed plant has been through? It produced the first grapes at the turn of the 17th century. That was the time when René Descartes began thinking about whether he is. The time when Galileo Galilei was discovering whether the Earth revolved around the Sun or the Sun around the Earth. The vine survived Turkish invasions, bombings during World War II, and five fires in the house on which it has been growing for centuries. Today, the Old Vine is one of the greatest Slovenian cultural and wine sites, which are a mandatory stop particularly for wine lovers as they explore Slovenian wine-growing regions.

The Old Vine
The Old Vine in Maribor
Photo: Domen Grögl

Although it is of venerable age, it still yields well

The Old Vine is the Žametovka variety, which is an indigenous Slovenian variety.

Žametovka or Modra Kavčina is among the oldest indigenous Slovenian varieties originating from Dolenjska. The Old Vine yields between 40 and 50 kilograms of grapes annually, and it is taken care of by Stane Kocutar, the town vinedresser. Under the leadership of Mag. Janez Valdhuber, between 15 and 35 litres of wine are produced annually from the grapes of the Old Vine at the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences of the University of Maribor. For protocol purposes, the wine is poured into quarter-litre bottles designed by the internationally recognised Slovenian designer, Oskar Kogoj. The spiral running along the neck of the bottle represents the immortality and perseverance of the Old Vine.

The Old Vine grapes

Photo: Domen Grög, Zavod za turizem Maribor - Pohorje Archive

The Old Vine is a symbol of friendship and connection

Its grafts thrive in over 170 locations on four continents.

The Old Vine is not just a symbol of Maribor and Slovenia, but a symbol of friendship and connection, and the promotion of wine culture around the world. The grafts of the Old Vine are given as presents each year to selected people, twin towns or other institutions. So far, the official certified grafts have been planted in over 170 locations, including Paris and Strasbourg, in 24 countries on four continents. It also thrives at Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia’s capital. Wine from the grafts that grow at Ljubljana Castle was presented to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain during her visit in 2008. The Old Vine’s wine is a priceless present also received by Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, former US president Bill Clinton, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and chess player Garry Kasparov.

Old Vine in Maribor
The Old Vine
Photo: Jošt Gantar

Old Vine in Maribor

Always at the heart of the action

The wine shop in the Old Vine House provides a wide range of exquisite wines from the region.

Despite its age, the Old Vine is still lively and at the heart of the action. On the last Saturday in June, klopotec – a wind rattle is set up in front of the Old Vine to preserve the ethnographic heritage. With its rattling, this traditional wooden device similar to a windmill, which is set up in most vineyards, scares birds away so that they do not eat the sweet grapes. In September, the traditional three-day Old Vine Festival takes place, which is a top cultural and gastronomic event. Local winemakers with excellent pairing of local delicacies are presented at the festival, accompanied by a rich cultural programme. The ceremonial harvesting of the Old Vine takes place on the last day of the festival.
Throughout the year, a wine shop is open in The Old Vine House with a well-maintained tasting room. At the wine shop, you can taste almost all of over 200 wines of 55 producers from the Podravje wine-growing region.

The Old Vine Festival
The Old Vine Festival
Photo: Dejan Bulut

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