Maribor’s largest ethnographic landmark, the Old Vine, gets all-year-round attention through diverse tourist promotional and protocol events. Certainly, the most famous and the most popular is the ceremonial harvest of its grapes that happens every September. Last year the harvest took place on the 30th, while this year it is taking place this coming Sunday, on the 22nd of September 2019.
The 33rd Ceremonial Grape Harvest of the World’s Oldest Vine is a part of the Maribor’s Old Vine Festival that annually celebrates the Queen of all vines. Certified as being more than 400 years old, the vine is not just a protected natural monument, but also the Guinness record holder for the oldest noble vine in the world still bearing grapes. All this makes it not just the pride of Maribor and its region Styria, but also the pride of Slovenia.
Growing at the front of a long solid two-storey old town house, named “The Old Vine House“ which is situated in the heart of the old city center on Lent that stretches along the serene Drava River, the Old Vine attracts visitors from all over the world. Even more so, the grape harvest of the Old Vine that follows old Styrian customs and habits, has in more than three decades become a true celebration of this second largest Slovenian city.
Crowds from Slovenia and abroad watch the ceremony while the special grape pickers, chosen for particularly this occasion, harvest the grape and then give them to the so called Master of the Old Vine, the Mayor of Maribor, who tastes the grapes, evaluates them and then declares them to be ripe enough for the harvest to begin.
The Old Vine bears grapes of the ‘žametovka’ or the ‘modra kavčina’ sort which was one of the first domesticated noble vine sorts in Slovenia. Grape pickers collect and weigh around 35 to 55 kilograms of žametovka, measure the sugar content, grind, press, and pour the liquid into containers, and then hand them over to the care of the Meranovo Estate where the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences works its magic. There the wine gets ripe and is then poured into 2.5 dl bottles that become a valuable protocol gift as only a hundred are filled every year. A true Queen then shines in all its grace.