“Old vines are a beacon for talented, committed individuals and organisations who understand their unique value to wine and have the tenacity and dedication to take on the challenges faced by old vines and heritage vineyards.” That’s the basis on which The Old Vine Conference has launched a new Old Vine Hero Award designed to recognise, respect and reward an individual, or winemaker, or producer that is going the extra mile in terms of promoting and protecting old vines. Here Belinda Stone, consultant head of marketing at the Old Vine Conference explains how the initiative is going to work.
Entries to the Old Vine Hero Award, organised by The Old Vine Conference, are free and close on February 19. If you would like to take part then click here for the entry form.
You have just launched the Old Vine Hero Award – in a nutshell what are you doing and offering?
The aim of the Old Vine Hero Award is to recognise the dedication, tenacity, talents and the life work of those working with old vines and their wines. The award is one way that we can help to unite the global wine community and raise awareness and understanding of the work being done to nurture old vines around the world.
Who is the award open to?
Old vines have weaved their way, one way or another, into many disciplines of the wine trade so we’ve left the entry criteria quite open. This can include, and is by no means limited to: winemakers, viticulturalists, wineries, regional wine bodies, communicators, marketers, distributors, sommeliers, wine buyers, retailers…..
We’d like to encourage the wine community to nominate someone, or a company, that they know is deeply involved in the old vine movement. People can also nominate themselves or the company they work for. It’s free to enter and entries close on Sunday 19th February 2023. The entry form is online here.
What are the criteria are you going to use to decide?
Old vines are a beacon for talented, committed individuals and organisations who understand their unique value to wine and have the tenacity and dedication to take on the challenges faced by old vines and heritage vineyards. The winner of the Old Vine Hero award may be actively engaged in an old vine program addressing the urgency of preserving agricultural heritage or a project that recognises the importance played by the future proofing of genetic diversity in the fight for resilience against diseases and climate change.
They may be working to raise the economic and social value of old vines or proactively championing the quality of the wines produced by old vines to their network and to the benefit of others. In a nutshell the Old Vine Hero Award will be awarded to the individual, group or organisation considered to be making the greatest contribution towards the positive progression of the old vine movement.
Who are the judges?
The Old Vine Conference global team: Sarah Abbott MW, Alun Griffiths MW, Leo Austin and myself will be joined by a superb panel of international judges made up of our Old Vine Conference regional ambassadors: Jane Anson, Louise Hurren, Umay Çeviker, Lilla O’Connor, Michèle Shah, Amanda Barnes, Anna Harris-Noble, Yiannis Karakasis MW and André Morgenthal. We are also thrilled to have three extremely experienced independent judges: Tamlyn Currin (JancisRobinson.com), Dan Saladino (journalist, broadcaster and author of Eating to Extinction) and David Kermode (presenter, judge and journalist).
All the entries will be assessed by our judging panel and a shortlist of the top six entries will be announced on March 1 2023. Voting will then open to the global wine community and The Old Vine Hero Award 2023 will be awarded to the shortlisted company, individual or group that receives the most votes.
What does the winner receive/ or what opportunities are there for them?
The winner of the Old Vine Hero Award 2023 will be invited to speak about their work with old vines at The Old Vine Conference 2023 taking place virtually on Friday 20th October. They will also be offered one year’s honorary membership to The Old Vine Conference community.
What do you hope the award will help achieve in terms of overall Old Vine initiative.
The award is one way that we can help to unite the global wine community and raise awareness and understanding of the work being done to nurture old vines around the world.
For those that don’t know the work of the Old Vine Conference what are your key aims?
The Old Vine Conference was founded two years ago by Sarah Abbott MW, Alun Griffiths MW and Leo Austin. It’s a non-profit organisation with the aim of establishing a commercially viable and sustainable global category for old vine wine by bringing together a global community dedicated to the protection, preservation and promotion of old vines and their wines.
Highlights to date?
We started with conferences but that was just the beginning. We now have an annual campaign of activity, in-person and virtual. In November last year we held our first field-trip with one of our winery members Villa Bogdano 1880, that was a real highlight, we took a group of wine trade professionals and media to visit ancient vineyards in Veneto and Friuli and learn from Professors that have dedicated their lives to the study and preservation of old vines. It was so well received we have our second field-trip booked in April with Feudi de San Gregorio in Campania.
You are also building a community of those involved in old vines around the world. How is that going?
The community is growing every week, from winery and trade members, individual members, traditional and social media supporters and our growing team of specialist Regional Ambassadors. We have winery members from Chile to Lebanon, Australia to Spain; we have a very engaged and fast growing community in Italy.
How do you become a member?
We’re funded by a combination of sponsorship, and trade, winery and individual membership. Trade and winery members sign up through me to our annual campaign and are part of our programme of events, media relations and activities across the year. Individuals can also become members via our website and enjoy access to our events, member benefits from some of our partners and stay informed of the latest old vine news from around the world.
What plans do you have for this year?
Old Vine Wine Week is coming up between March 13-19 which will be a week-long series of activities that we hope will engage, inspire, educate and connect with each channel of the trade and help bring the stories of their old vine wines to their customers. The winner of the Old Vine Hero Award will be announced at a Community dinner on March 15 during Old Vine Wine Week.
The Heritage Vines of Turkey team will be coming to London to present wines made from old vines that were the subject of the research they conducted thanks to the IWSC Foundation bursary awarded to them last year. Then we’ve got our virtual old vine Community workshops, our annual trade tasting and masterclass at 67 Pall Mall on June 14, the 2023 conference itself will be on October 20 and we have a growing roster of field-trips and our first Old Vine Conference in China. The campaign outline is on our website and is being added to all the time – click here for more details.