The Oldest Vine

The Oldest Vine

Journeys » The Oldest Vine

July 23, 2023: The oldest vine still thrives where grapes were planted over four centuries ago in Maribor, Slovenia. But the wine is not for sale!

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.

Galileo Galilei

Slovenia is a prosperous little country atop the Balkan peninsula, bordered by Croatia to the south, Italy to the west, Hungary to the East, and Austria on its long northern border.  And the map sets the scene – the geography looks Austrian, the Slavic language sounds Croatian, and the wine tastes Italian.  It is a little gem, and our exploration is long overdue.  Our Central Europe trip plan includes four destinations… scenic Lake Bled, lovely Ljubljana, and a day trip through Triglav National Park and the Soča Valley.

But first, an old vine and wine!

Žametovka grapes on the Oldest Vine
Žametovka grapes on the Oldest Vine

The Oldest Vine

Around 1580, an industrious merchant planted Žametovka grapevines in front of his Vine House in the Lent neighborhood of Maribor, just above the Drava River.  Over the centuries, it has survived several city fires, floods, invasions, and world wars.  And perhaps most impressively, even the phylloxera blight that decimated European wines in the late 1800s.

The Old Vine House
The Old Vine House, once part of the Maribor city walls

Celebrities Only

We were eager to try the red wine from the old vine… but it can’t be bought.  The vine produces only enough grapes to make ~25 liters (about six and a half gallons) of wine annually.  The Maribor Mayor gifts tiny bottles to presidents, popes, kings, queens, emperors, and actors.  MnJTravel2 isn’t circulated quite widely enough for us to make the list.  You could buy a rather expensive bottle made from the old vine’s much more youthful descendants.  We elected not to. 

Instead we consoled ourselves with a lovely, shaded Drava view and an alternative beverage before continuing on the scenic drive to Bled.

Consolation Seat
Consolation Seat
Consolation Prize
Consolation Prize
On to Bled
On to Bled, Julian Alps in the distance

More Bytes from The Central Europe Trip

The Dragon Cave

Centuries ago, monks carved the fantastical Dragon Cave reliefs high above the sea as they hid in from pirates and invading Turks.

Summer in Bol

We have seen some beautiful places in our travels, but we come back to summer in Bol again and again. It remains our second favorite place!

Baška Voda

Baška Voda is stunning, with hyper-saturated blue skies and water, and the Biokovo Massif looming overhead.  Do we maybe have a new second favorite place?


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