The Old Vine
The world's oldest grape-producing vine has survived four centuries of turmoil and even has its own anthem.
A grape vine in Maribor, Slovenia, clings to the outside of a building in the city center. Its lush leaves form a verdant stipe along the wall, creeping outward from the gnarled cordons. When in season, Žametovka grapes dangle from the plant like sweet, sugary ornaments.
The Old Vine is, according to Guinness World Records, the oldest grape-producing vine in the world. It was planted more than 400 years ago to make wine when the Turks invaded the city. Centuries later, it’s a beloved resident of Maribor and even has its own anthem, which many locals will proudly sing, glass of vino in hand.
The plant is a stalwart specimen, a resilient survivor of centuries of turmoil. Though the building it stretches across was once a wall that shielded the city from invaders, the vine escaped from many siege attempts intact. It somehow managed to thrive despite the fires that blazed within the wooden structures that once surrounded the space, then later endured a parasite that plagued nearby vines in the 19th century and outlasted the Allied bombing that destroyed nearby buildings during World War II.
Now, the vine wraps around the outside of its very own museum. After admiring the old plant from the outside, you can enter its resident building to learn about the city’s wine heritage and sample some drinks in the wine tasting room. There’s also an annual festival to celebrate the vine’s ceremonial grape harvest, which yields upwards of 120 pounds of fruit. Only 100 bottles of wine are produced from its grapes each year.
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