The World’s Oldest Grape Vine Has Been Around For Nearly 500 Years

The Slovenian city of Maribor is home to the world’s oldest grapevine still producing fruit, a resilient plant that dates back to the year 1570, when the city was facing an Ottoman invasion.

The Old Vine is the only plant in the world with its own dedicated museum, the Old Vine House, once part of the city wall. It grows on the side of this historic building and still produces an annual harvest of around 35 to 55 kg of grapes, enough to produce 15 to 35 liters of wine, which is bottled in special 2.5 dl bottles designed by famous artist Oskar Kogoj. Only about 100 bottles are produced every year, most of which are used as a special protocol gift. The Old Vine bears grapes of the “Žametovka” or “Modra kavčina” variety, one of the oldest domesticated noble vines in Slovenia.

Photo: Kay Adams/Wikimedia Commons

The world’s oldest fruit-bearing grapevine was planted in Maribor towards the end of the Middle Ages when Maribor was facing Ottoman invasion. Despite growing on the city wall at the time, it somehow managed to survive the heavy fighting that followed. It also survived the frequent fires that occurred during those times because of the vulnerable straw-covered wooden structures, as well as the lice that killed so many other vines.


During World War 2, Allies bombed Maribor and destroyed part of the old city wall, but the vine once again miraculously escaped. Today, the Old Vine is an important part of Maribor’s, and in fact the whole of Slovenia’s history and culture, so grafts of the oldest vine in the world are presented to partner cities and institutions all over the world.


The special wine made from the grapes of The Old Vine every year has been presented to a number of well-known personalities over the years, including Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and actor Brad Pitt, among many others.


The Old Vine House has paintings dating back to the 1600s that show the Old Vine was around back then, but official analysis has also confirmed that the world’s oldest grapevine is in fact at least 450 years old. It was this acknowledgment that won it a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.