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The Winemakers on a Mission to Protect South Africa’s Oldest Vines

An image of Old Vines in Wellington Basson Vineyard, South Africa. / Photo by: Danie Nel

Old vines are a special kind of wine-world treasure. But with varying global definitions of what constitutes an old vine, it’s not always easy to know a site’s full lifespan and story.

In South Africa, the Old Vine Project (OVP) aims to remedy any confusion through the registration of sites that are 35 years or older as Certified Heritage Vineyard. When a wine is produced from one of these sites, its label carries a seal and lists the year the vineyard was planted.

According to 2020 figures from SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS), South Africa has approximately 9,125 acres of vineyards aged 35 years or more across various regions with a variety of soil types. Of the more than 80 Certified Heritage Vineyards in South Africa, 10 are more than 100 years old.