Does Vine Age Matter?

Yes – grape vine age does matter and does have an impact on what a wine will taste like. But it’s important to note that high-quality wine producers will not utilize the grapes from vines that are under 3 years old. This is because the vines are so immature at this stage that not only are the yields small, but optimal juice and “balance” is not quite there yet. In fact, a grape vine doesn’t really produce an optimal yield until it’s roughly 5 years old.

How old should a grape vine be to yield the best quality grapes?

This is something that has long been up for debate. It’s not easy to recognize if it’s the age of a vine that is the main determinant in a wines flavor. The common assumption is that younger vines produce “brighter,” fruitier, slightly more acidic and less complex wines. While on the other hand, older vines produce grapes that have more depth, higher viscosity along with rich and complex flavoric notes. I stress that this is the ‘common’ belief, though winemakers can have varying degrees of opinion on this. This belief holds true especially in some regions of France, where some laws require that wines can only be produced from vines of a certain age. Conversely, many biodynamic winemaking proponents will argue that as long as the ecosystem of their individual vineyard is cared for properly, both young and old vines can produce tasty yields.

Items to take into account affecting wine flavor besides vine age:

  • Terroir (Soil Makeup)
  • Irrigation

Weather – and how long were vines exposed to any of these?

  • Rain
  • Hail
  • Shade
  • Sunlight

Aside from the effect environmental factors have on grapes during each growing year, how a wine is produced following a harvest greatly affects flavor.

Grape Vine Age

How long do grape vines live?

Grape vines can live to be over 100 years old, though it’s uncommon for most vineyards today to maintain a crop of this age. Most vines begin to provide significantly lower yields over the age of 50. Many winemakers will cease to utilize vines for wine production that are on the decline.

Image sources: Wikipedia

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