The Real Differences
Vine & Vineyard Characteristics Revealed
The age of a vine is important from a viticultural perspective. Age identifies certain essential characteristics of the vine, such as its varietal clone, the presence or absence of rootstock, the purity of clonal (or massal) selection, root depth, training system, vine spacing, drainage and pest pressure.
Vineyard characteristics, such as field blending (the presence of other varietals in the vineyard), soil amendments and the grading of the vineyard, can also be identified. All of these factors contribute to the intensity and range of flavors in the wine.
Old vines are often stronger and more resilient than young vines. And because of the depth of their roots, old vines are less vulnerable to drought, and are thus more likely to produce consistent fruit from vintage to vintage.
Smaller Yield, Slow Ripening, More Flavorful Fruit
Many old vines have been infected with viruses that, while completely harmless, can reduce the vine’s production and slow the ripening of its fruit. While we still don’t completely understand why the presence of these viruses produces more flavorful fruit – perhaps it is the longer ripening time, perhaps the smaller yields – this more flavorful fruit can lead to a thought-provoking and complex wine.
Certainly, smaller berries and fewer clusters means flavors are more intensely concentrated. Longer ripening promotes balanced ripening of the clusters, so that acidity, tannins and sugars mature together.
Vine Age VS. "Old Vine"
The Real Differences
While "old vine" is a term commonly used on Zinfandel labels to suggest that a wine is the product of vines that are notably old, the truth is there is no legal meaning, industry standard or even generally agreed upon definition for the term.
What Does "Old Vine" Mean?
Ultimately, the excitement of a Zinfandel is found in the glass. By sharing more about the age of the vines behind the wines, we hope to have piqued your curiosity and aroused both your senses and your sense of history.