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The Old Vine

18.10.2019

In the heart of the Podravje wine region, Maribor safeguards its most precious natural treasure – the oldest vine in the world that still bears fruit. This modra kavčina or žametovka vine is over 400 years old and is estimated to have been planted at the end of the Middle Ages. It was entered in the Guinness World Records book in 2004 and yields between 35 and 55 kg of grapes every year. The wine made from these grapes is used by the Municipality of Maribor as a diplomatic gift.

The Old Vine has survived centuries of invasions and fires, which have threatened the city’s existence. This is all the more impressive when you consider that the house where the vine grows used to be a part of the city walls—battles were fought right next to it. It also showed exceptional resilience against the grape phylloxera that destroyed the majority of European vineyards in the late 19th century. The Old Vine managed to survive because its roots reach so deep under the gravel of the river Drava that the phylloxera couldn’t reach them. During the Second World War, the bombing partially destroyed the house, but the vine survived.

A threat to the Old Vine’s existence arose in 1963 when a dam was built on the river and its surface rose for over three metres. This affected the vine’s root system, and nearly resulted in its death. Luckily, a group of experts managed to revitalise the vine and prevent the demolition of the house, which was in a rather poor condition at the time.

Aside form being the most important attraction of Maribor, the Old Vine has also become a symbol of friendship and cooperation. Every year, its scions are given to representatives of various institutions and municipalities from the whole world. By the end of 2018, 163 scions of the Old Vine could be found in 24 countries on four different continents.

The Old Vine has its own museum, which is located in the Old Vine House. The house faces the River Drava and used to be a part of the city walls in the past. Nowadays, the Old Vine House contains a display of the long wine making tradition in this region, a wine store, and an area where visitors can taste wines from the nearby vineries. It is also the location of the largest modern floor mosaic in Slovenia. The tiles symbolise the flow of the Drava and several important event in the history of Maribor: represented are, for example, the Drava rafters, the hydroelectric power plants on the river, Bishop Anton Martin Slomšek, and the battles of the general Wilhelm von Tegetthoff and general Rudolf Maister. The mosaic has a length of about 35 metres and consists of over a million tesserae.

The Old Vine House organises the Old Vine Festival every autumn.

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