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Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied

Since the formal launch of the Old Vine Project (OVP) in 2016, wine lovers both in South Africa and abroad have increasingly been able to tap into the intrigue and complexity of wines made from some of the country’s historic vineyards.

With a mandate to catalogue the vineyards, and promote the wines made from South Africa’s oldest vines, the OVP has so far catalogued more than 2,600ha of vines older than 35 years, the minimum age for “old vines” in South Africa.

And from Eben Sadie’s Mev. Kirsten to David Finlayson’s Camino Africana, unique patches of mature vineyard have certainly turned out some memorable wines. But it’s not always easy to know which wines come from old vines and, by buying them, how to actively ensure those roots stay in the ground.

That problem has been solved with the OVP’s new Certified Heritage Vineyards seal, a world-first classification for old vines. The seal may only be applied to bottles of wine made from vineyards 35 years or older and includes the planting date of the vines.


“We’ve seen a huge increase in awareness of old vines as a category, and the Heritage seal is an easy way for consumers to access these wines,” explains Andre Morgenthal from the OVP. “It’s also a guarantee that they are drinking a wine made from heritage vines, and that our vineyard heritage is protected.”

“We also believe that the renewed focus on the quality that old vines in South Africa can give, will help to raise the price of grapes in our country,” adds Rosa Kruger, the acclaimed viticulturist who founded the OVP and has been researching old vines since 2003.

Critics of the project have argued that old vines don’t always equate to good wine, but with many of the country’s top winemakers supporting the Old Vine Project – the likes of Eben Sadie, Chris Alheit, Andrea Mullineux and more – there’s no shortage of talent turning tapping into the fruits of older vines.

Are they any good? With the new Heritage seal, half the fun will be finding out.

Old Vine Project


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