The Barossa: Old Vines

The Barossa: Old Vines

The Barossa contains some of the oldest vineyards in the world – with one example dating back to 1843 – but until now, there was no formal schedule of classification or registration.

In 2009, the Barossa Old Vine Charter was instituted to register vineyards by age, so that older vines could be preserved, retained and promoted. The Charter groups vineyards into four categories by age: (in ascendant order) Old; Survivors; Centenarians and Ancestors.

Barossa Old Vine
Equal or greater than 35 years of age.

These Old vines have grown beyond adolescence and are now fully mature. They have a root structure and trunk thickness that encourages diversity of flavour and character. Their worthiness has been proven over many vintages, consistently producing the highest quality fruit for Barossa wines of distinction and longevity.

Barossa Survivor Vine
Equal or greater than 70 years of age.

These very old vines are a living symbol of traditional values in a modern environment and signal a renewed respect for Barossa old vine material. They have weathered the worst of many storms, both man-made and naturally occurring, including the infamous 1980s Vine Pull scheme. A Barossa Survivor vine has reached a significant milestone, and pays homage to the resolute commitment of those growers and winemakers who value the quality and structure of old vine wines.

Barossa Centenarian Vine
Equal or greater than 100 years of age.

These exceptionally old vines serve as a witness to the Barossa’s resilience in the face of adversity. The Barossa, unlike many other of the world’s great wine regions, is phylloxera-free, which allowed these vines to mature into their thick, gnarly trunks and naturally-sculptured forms without interference.
Noted for their low yields and intensity of flavour. Planted generations ago – when dry-farming techniques demanded careful site selection – Centenarian Vines have truly withstood the test of time.

Barossa Ancestor Vine
Equal or greater than 125+ years of age. 

An Ancestor vine has stood strong and proud for at least one hundred and twenty five years – a living tribute to the early European settlers of the Barossa. Their genetic material has helped to populate this region with irreplaceable old stocks that underpin the viticultural tradition. Tend to be dry-grown, low-yielding vines of great flavour and intensity, and are believed to be among the oldest producing vines in the world.

 

Old vines do not of themselves make good wine. But, vineyards that consistently produce good wine tend to get the opportunity to become old vines.  

And as with any sense of custodianship, there is responsibility as well as benefit. Old vines also present challenges to the grower: they require a lot of nurturing and yields are often uneconomically low. On the upside, they offer possibilities that young vines simply cannot entertain, they tend to be more drought resistant, and their Darwinian efficiency often means that they can be flavour-, sugar- and tannin-ripe earlier in the season.

The unique history of the Barossa means that this viticultural legacy can be successfully promoted in the pursuit of international fine wine acceptance and credibility. If it should ever be possible to taste history and the past, then it will be through the successful preservation and celebration of an old vine culture.

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