A New Generation of Wineries is Reviving the Ancient Tradition in Armenia Winemaking Regions

History has always recognized Armenia as a great winemaking region. Ancient Armenia was referred to be “the country of the Vineyard” by Urartu Kings in the eighth century BC. It is in the Ararat mountains that Noah planted his first vineyard and became drunk from wine. Thousands of years later, in the early 20th century, the Soviet rule almost eliminated the winemaking tradition from the culture of the Armenian people.

From the early to the late 20th century, Armenian winemakers were instructed to mass-produce fortified brandy and wines instead of the traditional Armenian table wine. In need of supervision and attention, a large number of the vineyards were devastated. But conditions began to change towards the late 1990s when winemakers started to see improvements in the industry.

Several studies conducted by the researchers from the University of California as well as the Armenian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography have discovered reliable information about the world’s oldest winery, located in the village of Areni in the southeastern part of Armenia. Under a layer of sheep manure, archaeologists discovered the crumbled remnants of jars used for fermenting and collecting grape juice that date back more than 6000 years.

This proved that people produced wine systematically one century earlier than had originally been thought. In addition to such significant discoveries, traces of grapes that were normally used to produce red wine were also found on pot shards, identifying a new connection between modern and ancient wine production.

Encouraged by such discoveries of ancient wine-making practices, a new generation of the post-communism winemakers and wine lovers have started to reclaim the winemaking heritage in Armenia, reintroducing and identifying historic grape varieties. As a result, the wine culture in the country is undergoing a “rebirth,” according to an Armenian wine expert and owner of Yerevan-based winery consultancy, Vahe Keushaguerian.

Armenia, A New Generation of Wineries is Reviving the Ancient Tradition in Armenia Winemaking Regions
As of today, the Ararat valley in Armenia is almost similar to Napa Valley in California due to the rate at which new wineries are emerging throughout the region. Also, in the capital city of Yerevan, the number of wine bars is growing drastically, giving Armenian wines and wineries global recognition.

Did you know?

According to Genesis, it is in the mountains of Ararat that Noah plants the first vineyard and becomes drunk on wine.

The unique terroir in Armenia, which is characterized by various environmental factors affects the grape lifecycle. According to Keushguerian, Armenian terroir is “a little bit of everything”. The distinct flavors of the Armenian wine are a result of the diverse microclimates and rich, volcanic soils that contribute to the flavors of the indigenous variety of grapes.

Besides the terroir, the high quality of the Armenian grapes is also influenced by their longevity, as they have been planted in the area for thousands of years. Due to such rich history of the Armenian wine industry, winemakers are raising awareness for a new method of classification of wines identified as Historic World. This classification, which is different from the New World or the Old-World varieties of the Americans and Europeans, includes wines from the world’s oldest wine-producing areas, such as Iran, Armenia, and Georgia.

For you to experience the best world’s wine renaissance, it is highly recommended to visit wineries across Armenia.

Want to read more about wine? Try reading the book below!

Wines of Armenia: A Comprehensive Guide to Armenian Wineries and Winemaking

Reference

[1]Briahnna Brown, In One of the World’s Oldest Winemaking Regions, a New Generation Revives an Ancient Tradition (Armenia, 2016), p. 1; https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/armenia-wine-travel-tourism-viticulture-vineyards-180959986/. [Accessed on 1st March 2022].

[2] Mkrtich Harutyunyan and Manuel Malfeito-Ferreira, ‘Historical and Heritage Sustainability for the Revival of Ancient Wine-Making Techniques and Wine Styles,’ Beverages, Vol. 8, no. 1 (2022), pp. 10.

[3] Wall, Rebecca, ‘History in a Glass: (Re)discovering Armenian Wine,’ Smithsonian Magazine,  May 13, 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/history-glass-rediscovering-armenian-wine-180959095/ [Accessed on 1st March 2022].

[4] Brown 2016

[5] Hugger, Anne Elisabeth, “Consumption in Armenia–An Analysis of the Wine Demand.”

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