Old Vines Of Barossa Valley

One of the most prominent wine regions in Australia, Barossa Valley is also home to some of the oldest vines in the world. The rich winemaking history of Barossa Valley goes back to the 19th century when British settlers brought viticulture practices with them to the region. Over time, the winemaking practices have modernised to embrace efficiency and sustainability, however, Barossa Valley has managed to preserve old traditions and vines with a lot of care and pride.

Lying north of the coastal city of Adelaide, this flat valley experiences a warm and dry climate. This, along with scanty rainfall, creates vine stress and leads to the concentration of flavour in the fruits produced. But there’s another factor which helps certain wines from Barossa Valley achieve an iconic status.

Old Vines of Barossa Valley

Even though viticulture only came to Australia nearly two centuries ago, Barossa Valley is home to some of the oldest vines in the world. Some of these vines can be traced back to the 1840s. In the late 19th century, the wine industry suffered a devastating infestation of Phylloxera- an insect that attacks the roots of grapevines, it managed to wipe out almost every vineyard in the world, infesting the common wine grape plant Vitis vinifera which is extremely susceptible to the louse. However, due to strict quarantine measures, Phylloxera never managed to reach Barossa Valley, preserving historic stocks that had been uprooted from the rest of the world.

Barossa Valley is home to some of the world’s oldest Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre and Grenache vines. Vines that have survived for more than 125 years in the region are known as Barossa Ancestor Vines, whose genetic material has helped to populate the region with irreplaceable old stocks. Meanwhile, vines that are a hundred years old are called Barossa Centenarian Vines.


Grape Varieties

Old vines of Shiraz produce stunning expressions in Barossa Valley, aided by the region’s warm and dry climate. The wine has aromas of ripe black fruits and gains notes of leather and spice upon ageing. The full-bodied wine has soft tannins and high levels of alcohol, giving it great ageing potential.

As a vine grows old, it starts yielding a lesser quantity of fruits, however, these grapes are packed with concentrated flavours, making the produce invaluable. This holds true for old vines of all grape varieties that are found in Barossa Valley as well.

Legendary Vineyards of Barossa Valley

These old vines require a lot of care to ensure that they continue producing superior quality yield year after year, withstanding the climatic hardships that come their way. The credit for sustaining them thus goes to vineyards which have acted as their guardians for generations now. Here are some of the oldest vineyards in Barossa Valley that perform this task with a lot of pride.

Cirillo Estate: Houses the 1848 Grenache, Semillon and Shiraz vines. The estate is owner and custodian of the oldest still producing Grenache and Semillon vines in the world.

Hewitson: Houses Old Garden Mourvèdre, planted on Section 2702- these are the oldest Mourvèdre vines in the world dating back to 1853.

Langmeil Winery: Home to The Freedom 1843 Shiraz- a rare wine commemorates the pioneering spirit of the region’s first settlers and their willingness to endure hardship for the right to keep their faith and their freedom.

Penfolds: The globally renowned producer’s Kalimna Block 42 vines, planted in the 1880s, are believed to be the oldest continuously-producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world.

Chateau Tanunda: The chateau is the caretaker for Shiraz and Grenache vines planted on their rootstock over 150 years ago. It also houses Semillon and Riesling vines that are 100 years of age.

Elderton Wines: The producers are proud custodians of the original Elderton estate in Nuriootpa, Barossa Valley, which grows the fruit for their icon wines Command Single Vineyard Shiraz and Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines at this estate were planted in 1894.

Turkey Flat: This family-owned estate is home to some of the oldest Shiraz vines in Australia, planted in 1847, playing a vital role in the Barossa Valley’s rich cultural heritage.

For students who want to learn more about Barossa Valley’s rich winemaking culture and history, Sonal Holland Wine Academy has collaborated with Barossa Wine School to bring you the “Introduction to Barossa” course. Barossa Wine School is a comprehensive wine education program that enhances students’ understanding of the region’s history, viticulture, winemaking and wine styles.

The “Introduction to Barossa” course has been designed specifically for students, educators, wine trade professionals and wine enthusiasts, who want to enhance their understanding of this acclaimed wine region. This free online course is taught by none other than Sonal C Holland MW, India’s most qualified wine educator.  To access the course, all you have to do is click here.
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