The oldest vines in the world can be found in Greece.
In the late 1800s, the aphid-like insect known as phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards of Europe, South Africa, and many in the Americas. Relatively isolated from the rest of the world, Australia was one of the last wine regions to be invaded by the pest. Swift, and it must be said—Draconian—measures imposed in the state of South Australia made it the only winegrowing region on the continent and one of the few in the world to side-step the scourge. Even today, South Australia is phylloxera-free, as a result of the strict quarantine laws it put in place in the 1890s. Those laws protected what are now some of the oldest vineyards in the world—vineyards which possess the original genetic plant material of Europe’s indigenous grapevines. Two important examples are in the Barossa Valley. The Hewitson family owns the Old Garden Vineyard which contains the world’s oldest mourvèdre, planted in 1853. And Penfold’s famous Kalimna “Block 42” of cabernet sauvignon planted in 1888 is thought to be the oldest cabernet sauvignon the world over. While definitive records do not exist, some of these vines are thought to be first generation cuttings from the famous James Busby Collection of vines originally planted at Sydney’s Botanical Gardens in the 1830s.