Old vines are spread throughout different Greek PDO and PGI regions and are a common feature of Greece’s vineyards. Be it in the region of PGI Attiki (ΠΓΕ Αττική), the 50+ bush vines of Savatiano grape planted after phylloxera has passed, or the centenarian old basket-trained “kouloures” in Santorini, these vines hide a great ampelographic heritage that is unique to Greece.
In more isolated areas, such as the southern part of Crete, field-blends of old, bush-trained vines are planted to almost extinct grape varieties that the new generation of Greek winemakers are keen to explore. The mountainous part of Achaia, the so-called PGI Slopes of Aigialia (ΠΓΕ Πλαγιές Αιγιαλείας) is also a treasure chest of ancient grape varieties that were preserved from old vine-growers and nowadays are re-discovered and add to the diversity of the Greek vineyard.
Cephalonia (Kefalonia) and the Ionian islands are also home to a great number of old vines from rare indigenous grape varieties. In the most remote Greek regions phylloxera didn’t arrive and thus a number old, own-rooted, vines have been preserved. In other regions, such as Santorini or Amyndeon, due to the sandy soils, phylloxera cannot survive. Where phylloxera did not manage to attack the vines, there is still a significant number of old vines.
In many cases old-vines are perfectly adapted to their local environment. For example, the old Savatiano vines in Attiki are extremely resistant to the dry, warm climatic conditions of the region. Very often, such old vineyards display a great biodiversity among the vines, contributing to great complexity and enhancing the sense of terroir in the wines.
The term old vines, vieilles vignes, or similar, indicate an old vineyard on the label. According to the Greek wine law, the use of these terms in PDO and PGI wines applies only to ungrafted vines with a minimum age of 40 years old.