Stories of Nature
World’s Oldest Vine
Maribor, lying in the middle of the eminent wine-growing countryside, in its heart preserves a unique treasure that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. That is the Old Vine, a symbol which has thrived for more than 400 years in the medieval core of the city, next to the river Drava.
The oldest living example of a noble vine on our planet symbolises over 1000 years of winemaking tradition in North-eastern Slovenia.
The Old Vine (sort »Žametovka«) was planted more than 400 years ago, when the plague was raging across Europe and the inquisitors were chasing witches. In those times, people where much closer to nature and maybe this is the reason why they planted the vine in front of the city wall. It survived the medieval fires, the appalling hygiene which had smothered the city in the Middle Ages, the Turkish attacks and even World War II bombardments. Surprisingly, it also survived the 19th century epidemic of the vine pest which destroyed nearly all of Europe’s vineyards.
During the course of the centuries the vine has survived a lot and today it thrives in all its glory, thanks to the river Drava that has been watering its deep roots since it was planted. Mr Tone Zafošnik, the town vinedresser, saved the Old Vine from decay in 1970 with a daring and expert intervention.
As a jewel of natural heritage par excellence, the Old Vine entered the world famous Guinness Book of Records in 2004 as the oldest living example of a noble vine in the world and it still bears amazing grapes every autumn.
During the Old Vine Festival, taking place each autumn, up to 55 kilograms of grapes are harvested and later bottled in 2,5-decilitre glass bottles designed by the famous artist Oskar Kogoj.
The Old Vine also connects the city of Maribor with other parts of the world. Pope John Paul II himself took a scion from Maribor to Rome, and now the vine is also growing in the Vatican vineyard. During the ritual pruning of the vine in early spring, the city of Maribor present scions to chosen places and towns respectively. Now the scions of the old vine also grow in the Japanese town of Kanigawa, in Australia’s Yarra Valley, at the Danish royal castle of Fredensborg and in front of the wine museum in the centre of Paris.
Today, the Old Vine grows on the façade of the Old Vine House, a museum with different exhibits, an exhibition room and a wine-tasting area, which is considered to be the temple of wine tradition and culture in Slovenia. It is a place where different wine and culinary events take place, and it represents a joining point for wine lovers and winemakers from the surrounding areas where they can present their long winemaking tradition, which results in high-quality and renowned wines.