Photo: Kay Adams/Wikimedia Commons
Maribor, Slovenia, is home to the world’s oldest grapevine that is still yielding fruit, a hardy plant that goes back to 1570, when the city was facing an Ottoman attack.
The Old Vine is the only plant in the world that has its own museum, the Old Vine House, which was previously part of the city wall. It grows on the side of this old structure and still provides an annual harvest of 35 to 55 kg of grapes, which is enough to make 15 to 35 litres of wine, which is bottled in special 2.5 dl bottles made by famous artist Oskar Kogoj. Only roughly 100 bottles are made each year, the majority of which are given as a special protocol gift.
The Old Vine produces grapes of the “ametovka” or “Modra kavina” kind, one of Slovenia’s oldest cultivated noble vines.
The world’s oldest fruit-bearing grapevine was planted in Maribor near the end of the Middle Ages, when the city was under threat from Ottoman invasion. Despite the fact that it was growing atop the city wall at the time, it managed to survive the fierce warfare that followed. It also withstood the multiple fires that happened during that time period due to the weak straw-covered wooden houses, as well as the lice that killed so many other vines.
During World War II, the Allies attacked Maribor and damaged a portion of the historic city wall, yet the vine miraculously survived. Today, the Old Vine is an essential element of Maribor’s, and indeed Slovenia’s, history and culture, thus grafts of the world’s oldest vine are offered to partner cities and institutions all over the world.
Every year, a special wine created from The Old Vine grapes is handed to a number of well-known figures, including Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, former US President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and actor Brad Pitt, among many others.
The Old Vine House includes paintings from the 1600s that prove the Old Vine existed at the time, but official examination has confirmed that the world’s oldest grapevine is at least 450 years old. This recognition earned it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.