Vines are at the centre of every wine story, whether those vines are young, old or somewhere in between.
And we’re fortunate in South Australia to have some of the oldest vines in the world, thanks to the absence of the grapevine scourge, phylloxera.
As a celebration of our old vines, at the regional level, the Barossa Old Vine Charter was established in 2009 having evolved from an initiative of the Yalumba Wine Company in 2007 to recognise and celebrate the intrinsic merit of old vines. Vines equal or greater than 35 years of age but less than 70 years of age are referred to as “Old”, vines equal or greater than 70 years of age but less than 100 years of age are referred to as “Survivors”, vines equal or greater than 100 years of age but less than 125 years of age are referred to as “Centenarians”, and vines equal or greater than 125 years of age are referred to as “Ancestors”.
Of the total area of vines planted in SA:
- We have 66,665 hectares of vines aged 0-34 years.
- We have 6,153 hectares of vines aged 35-69 years (‘Old Vines’).
- We have 597 hectares of vines aged 70-99 years (‘Survivor Vines’).
- We have 147 hectares of vines aged 100 years to 124 years (‘Centenarian Vines’).
- And in the ‘Ancestor Vines’ category, aged 125 years plus, we have 103 hectares of vines here in SA.
These Ancestor Vines can be found in the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, the Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Langhorne Creek and the Riverland. They include 58 hectares of Shiraz in the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Clare, Coonawarra and Langhorne Creek.
We also have some 125-year-old-plus Cabernet Sauvignon in the Barossa and Langhorne Creek, and ‘Ancestor’ Grenache can be found in the Barossa Valley, Clare and McLaren Vale.
The Barossa is also home to ‘Ancestor’ Mataro, Semillon, Pedro Ximenez and Trebbiano.
“This rich tapestry of old vine material helps to populate the state with irreplaceable vine stock that underpins our viticultural traditions but also our ambitions,” said Inca Pearce, CEO of Vinehealth Australia.
“This old vine material continues to provide a valuable source of material for new plantings today. So, justifiably, we’re working hard to keep South Australian vines healthy.”