View the full article by Chris Howard on JancisRobinson.com
As we approach the end of August, when it will be time for you to vote on your favourite entry in this year’s writing competition, we’re publishing this account by Chris Howard*, winner of our 2021 competition, of his long-postponed prize: a trip to see South Africa’s cherished old vines in person. Above, Chenin vines dating from 1964 successfully transplanted from the Paardeberg Mountains to the L’Ormarins estate in Franschhoek (photo: Gideon Nel). See alsothis guide to our extensive coverage of old vines and Jancis’s tasting article on old-vine South African wines.
Home to some of the oldest soils on earth, the Cape of Good Hope is also ground zero for South Africa’s burgeoning Old Vine Project. There I found the determination to preserve heritage vineyards is driven not only by the quality of the wines they produce but a conception of value that takes us well beyond economics and into ethical, aesthetic and symbolic territory. After an outline and update of the project, I offer some reflections on these dimensions and how the growing passion for old vines speaks of and to our times.