How Old is an "Old Vine"?

Plenty of wine, especially Zinfandel from California, with "old vine" or "old vines" on the label. But how many years of life does a vine have to accumulate before it can be called "old"? Well, just like with people, it's a touchy subject and one that's unregulated. As Laurie Daniel reminds us in the San Jose Mercury News, terms like "old vine", "heritage vines", and "ancient vines" are meaningless. So can we agree on a minimum number of years before we can refer to a Zinfandel vine as truly old? Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) has not weighed in, but for their Heritage Vineyard Project the group only took cuttings of 60+ year-old vines. Joel Peterson, legendary founder of and winemaker for Ravenswood Winery, sets the bar at "around 50 years, plus or minus five" when it comes to denoting a Zinfandel vine as old.

But rather than be fixated on age, sometimes it's best to enjoy what's good regardless of a number. Here are three California Zinfandels to explore.