Old Vine Conference aims to support world’s oldest wines

A new initiative has been launched to support the global group of winemakers and viticulturists engaged with the world’s oldest vines.

The Old Vine Conference in March is the first in a series which will take place throughout 2021, bringing industry professionals together to share knowledge, build alliances and develop new tools to preserve, protect and nurture old vine vineyards. 

Leo Austin, Sarah Abbott MW and Alun Griffiths MW have launched The Old Vine Conference - a non-profit organisation that seeks to highlight the work of old vine pioneers, advocate the scientific and oenological case for old vines, help build old vine wines into a recognized category amongst consumers and slow the loss of important old-vine vineyards worldwide.

The first event will take place on March 23 and 24, hosted and moderated by Tim Atkin MW, Dr Jamie Goode and Sarah Abbott MW. It is free to attend. The conference will bring together some of the most respected old vine advocates from around the world to share their experience and views.  

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Rosa Kruger (founder) & André Morgenthal (project manager), the South African Old Vines Project. The project grew out of a commitment to raise the living standards of vine workers through recognizing the value of their work. It has become a benchmark for the national protection, certification and marketing of old vine wines.
  • Faouzi Issa, co-owner and winemaker, Domaine des Tourelles, Lebanon. Faouzi has championed a return to native and regional varieties in the Bekaa Valley, using indigenous old vine Merwah and Cinsault brought to the area by Jesuits in the 1800s. His 70-year-old bush vines demonstrate immense affinity for the region’s terroir and climate and reveal a practical path forward for local winemakers.
  • Salvo & Simone Foti, I Vigneri, Etna – Salvo and Simone have successfully created a collective of 30 growers with a mission to preserve the ancient vineyards of Etna and Eastern Sicily. In the process they have reinvigorated a community and once again made vine growing into a realistic vocation for the region’s youth.
  • Elias Lopez Montero, winemaker and co-owner of Bodegas Verum, the family winery and distillery near Ciudad Real.  Elias has nurtured their ancient bush vine Airen and makes acclaimed wines in the original clay tinajas installed by his grandfather.

Following the Conference, a global schedule of old vine tastings and vineyard visits will be developed, together with a crowdfunding project to support viticulture heritage sites in danger.

Sarah Abbott said: “In recent years, a group of old vine pioneers around the world have made immense efforts to preserve viticultural heritage, highlight the science of old vines and re-invigorate local communities of small growers. These are some of the most important initiatives in our industry. Our research has shown that many otherwise passionate wine lovers still don’t understand or value old vines, often dismissing the term as a marketing gimmick.

“The result is unbalanced industry economics and the loss of irreplaceable old vines year after year. If you are passionate about heritage, science and taste, please work with us to create a new wine category and sustain the world’s most valuable old vines.”

Leo Austin said: “We can change the economics of old vines and through that change the lives of grower communities around the world. It requires us to build a credible old vine category and develop consumer demand – but it can be done. We hope to build support and together we’ll make a difference.” 

To reserve a place, please visit: https://www.oldvines.org/program-speakers

23rd March 2021 – 11:00 – 14:00 GMT

24th March 2021 – 17:00 – 20:00 GMT

More speakers and the detailed program will be published at www.oldvines.org

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