Thursday, 07 November 2019 12:43

Any Old Vines? — Bob's Blog

Written by  Bob Campbell, MW
How old is too old? How old is too old?

How important is vine age to wine quality? 

As a winemaker once commented, “If you’ve got old vines it’s critically important, if you don’t then it doesn’t matter a damn.”

I trawled back through my records in search of geriatric vineyards. The oldest vines I came across were Gewurztraminer planted in Te Whare Ra’s Marlborough vineyard 40 years ago with Riesling a year after that.

Ata Rangi and Martinborough Vineyards have Pinot Noir vines that have recently celebrated their 39th birthday.

Weighing in at 38 years (if my records are correct) are a Framingham Riesling vineyard from Marlborough, and Valli “Old Vine” Riesling from Central Otago.

Grant and Helen Whelan told me many years ago that they had the country’s oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in Canterbury that would be over 38 years old if it survives today. “They were dog tucker clones but vine age allowed us to make some pretty good Pinot Noir” enthused Grant.

Rippon Vineyards planted Pinot Noir, Riesling and other varieties 37 years ago while Stonecroft’s 35 year-old Syrah is reputed to be the country’s oldest Syrah.

I am sure there are older vines and vineyards in the country and invite anyone who wishes to update or amend my “old vine register” to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Old Vines” in the subject line.

I believe that vine age does make a contribution to wine consistency, flavour intensity and complexity. Expect to see more “old vine” wines on the market as producers acknowledge the contribution that vine age makes to wine quality. 

We need to follow Australia’s lead by developing a “NZ Old Vine Charter” to guide producers and consumers. 

How’s this for a start?

• Mature vine – 25 years of age or more

• Old vine – 35 years of age or more

• Very old vine – 50 years of age or more

More like this

Empowering consumers

When MW Bob Campbell urged NZ Riesling producers to utilise a taste profile on their labels at the recent Aromatics symposium, there was one person in the room who broke into a wide smile.

Bob's blog

From Donald Trump's sobriety to a NZ$54,461 bottle of Madeira, here's the blog of MW Bob Campbell.

Bob's blog

Bob Campbell MW examines whats happening in the New Zealand wine industry.


No threat to farming from forestry

OPINION: There’s some agitation out there at the moment about farming being under threat from forestry. Much of what’s circulating is based on misinformation so it’s time to lay out the facts.


Women’s stories inspire many

Storytelling will help attract, retain and inspire the next generation in dairy farming, says Jules Benton, Dairy Women’s Network chief executive.

Pride is making a big comeback

Pride is returning to the dairy industry, says the new chair of Dairy Women’s Network, Karen Forlong, a Central Plateau farmer.

» Latest Print Issues Online



Popular Reads

Alcohol&Me reaches thousands

Initially established as an inhouse programme by Lion New Zealand, Alcohol&Me is now reaching nearly 30,000 New Zealanders.

Green tea instead of Sulphur

A Marlborough winery is attempting to replace sulphur dioxide (SO2) from their organic Sauvignon Blanc and replace it with green…