In the northeastern corner of Slovenia, you’ll find the oldest grape-bearing vine in the world, which has grown for over 400 years on the side of a house in Maribor, some 15 miles from the Austrian border.
The vine was planted sometime in the late 16th century during the turmoil of recurring invasions from the Ottoman Empire. An exact date is not certain due to a few centimeters of rot in the vine’s core sample. But, in 1972, dendrologist Dr. Rihard Erker determined the vine was between 350–400 years old. Genetic experts in Paris confirmed the findings.
A Story of Survival
To Slovenians, the old vine is a symbol of survival.
For instance, in 1870, the phylloxera parasite decimated European vineyards by attacking and killing vines at the roots. In France alone, phylloxera killed a quarter of the vineyards, reduced wine production by half and created widespread panic and hopelessness. Yet, the old vine’s ancient roots were deep within the watery banks of the nearby Drava River, drowning pests and protecting it from phylloxera.
The vine even survived bombings during World War II (1939–1945) that partially destroyed the home on which it grows.