Have you ever wondered where the oldest winery in history is?
It’s not in France, it’s not in Italy and it’s not in Greece either.
Armenia has the oldest archaeological evidence of organised winemaking activity in the Areni caves complex, dating back more than 6,000 years.
Noah the First Winemaker
Interestingly enough, according to the Bible, at the end of the flood, Noah ark landed on mount Ararat (an extinct volcano), nowadays in Turkey but originally in Armenian territory. The biblical story goes on saying that it was in fact Noah, after the flood, the first man who planted a vine and made wine. And he also had the very first hangover in history.
Started in prehistoric age, Armenia wine making continues ever since.
It went through the Persian Empire of which the region was part of, and with Christianity that reached the coutry as early as 40 AD.
Armenia Wine Renaissance
After a set-back during the Soviet Union era, which threatened the survival of this tradition, ancient techniques and local grapes have been re-discovered in combination with modern technology leading to a recent “renaissance” of Armenian wine.
There are more than 500 indigenous grape varietals in Aremenia.
With our Armenia wine tour you will discover and tast this millenary tradition.
Armenia Country of Brandy
The country became part of the Soviet Union in 1922. According to the central industrial and agricultural planning of the communist regime Armenia grapes were to be used for the production brandy.
The production of brandy is still big in Armenia. Yerevan, the capital city, has more distillers per capita that any other city in the world. You can visit distillery and sample award winning Armenian brandy with our unique Armenia brandy tour.
Where is it?
Armenia is a landlocked country in the middle of the Caucasia. It is predominantly mountainous, with many extinct volcanoes and a soil rich in solidified lava.
Armenia Grape Varietals
Vitis Vinifera (grape vine), was first domesticated somewhere around the Caucasian area more than 5.000 years ago. Armenia, with such old wine making tradition is today home to more than 500 indigenous grape varietals.
Areni (also referred to as Areni Noir) is the most common Armenian local grape. Areni grapes have been made into wine for millennia and selected for its resistance to diseases and to the dry, harsh growing conditions of Armenian soil and climate. It is aboriginal in the Vayots Dzor region, has a thick skin and is amber black.
It produces a light to medium ruby wine, with hints of cherry and berries and a defined acidic content.
Main white grape varietal is Voskehat, also used for the production of Armenian brandies.
Toasting is an important part of Armenian tradition and culture. Armenians have been producing and consuming alcohol since time immemorial and an elaborate toasting culture has evolved over the centuries to punctuate social gatherings.
Every event will have a tamada (toastmaster), a position that comes with high responsibilities.
Eloquence and wit are necessary qualities of a tamada. The (many) toasts proceed in a certain order and include toasts dedicated to family, health, personal and professional achievements and so on. The order of toasts varies depending on the region and occasion, but most gatherings start with a “Genatst!” (Toast) to the tamada and his family, to Armenia, to friendship, to women, to children and (usually lastly) to the ochakh, or hearth, as a symbol of family life.
An Armenian gathering attended by a “good” tamada, can become an unforgettable experience.
Armenian Food and Pairings
The Armenian cuisine is varied and extremely tasty. It reflects European and Levantine influences and is based on local fruit, vegetables and meats.
Main ingredients include pork, lamb, aubergines, legumes, various types of dairies and nuts. Fresh and dried fruits feature both in dessert with honey and savoury dishes. Don’t miss the Armenian apricots: a crop so popular since ancient times that it is thought to have originated in Armenia, for this reason its scientific name is Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum).
Meals are accompanied by lavash, a paper thin unleavened bread baked in a tandoor oven.
“Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia”UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Khorovats: the Armenian Barbecue
On festive occasions, the keyword is khorovats, the delicious barbecued kebabs.
Once again, “what grows together goes together”:
- Areni reds are perfect in pairing with a khorovats or a meat stew
- Voskehat whites work beautifully with fresh cheese, vegetables and salads.
Of course, no meal can end without a brandy!
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