Armenia is for wine lovers

Armenia is for wine lovers

#Culture and lifestyle



Welcome to Armenia, where every sip tells a story! From ancient traditions to modern vineyards, the journey from grape to glass is a sensory feast waiting to be explored. 


If you’re a wine enthusiast, make Armenia your destination this year. The UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism will take place in Armenia for the first time ever in autumn 2024!


Sip Through Time: History of Armenian Wine


From the early Bronze Age caves where winemaking first began to the local revival of the craft a decade ago, Armenia's wine story is as rich as the red cliffs of Vayots Dzor. (That, by the way, is one of Armenia’s most famous wine-making regions, and we recommend you take a journey through its charted wine route). 


You may not realize it, but some of the first wines were made in this part of the world. Armenia’s history of wine-making dates back to 6,100 BC. Learn about its ancient story through a tour of the Areni-1 cave (or the Bird cave) nestled in Vayots Dzor. There, in 2007, a team of archeologists uncovered human bones as well as remains of grapes and clay vessels that pointed to the existence of ancient winemaking traditions. 


As a republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia was cultivated into the chief producer of cognac. Distillers spent the majority of their effort cultivating the white grapes used to make brandy, and many old red grape vines went overlooked. Armenian winemaking fell by the wayside until the 1990s. It was only then that locals began to relearn the ancient art of viticulture and uncover the secrets of Armenian vines. 


In the past decade, local wine-making has blossomed. When the first modern wine bar in Yerevan opened in 2013, there were only 10 local wine options available there. Now there are more than 100!


Grapes and Terroir: Nature's Canvas for Wine


Armenia boasts a terroir that is a perfect recipe for exceptional wines. Ancient Assyrian and Greek accounts even reference these beverages!


Among Armenia's ten regions, Vayots Dzor, Aragatsotn, Ararat, and Armavir emerge as the viticultural gems. These areas showcase a unique combination of sought-after grape-growing attributes: volcanic soil, elevated terrain, and venerable vines aged 35 years and older.


What sets Armenian wines apart is the absence of the phylloxera blight, a notorious North American pest that wreaked havoc on vines in Europe during the 1860s. Unlike many vineyards globally, Armenian vines stand proudly "own-rooted," untouched by the need for grafting onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock. This distinctive feature, often lauded by wine enthusiasts, adds an extra layer of pride to Armenia's winemaking heritage.


Meet the Stars: Famous Armenian Grapes


Curious about the most famous Armenian grapes? Here’s some facts on a few of them: 


  • Areni (or Areni Noir) is the pride and joy of Armenian winemakers. It’s endemic to Armenia, own-rooted and an ancient variety with no genetic connection to others (this is the grape whose remains were found in the Areni-1 cave.) The dark purple, waxy fruit delivers medium-bodied red wines with good aging potential. You’ll catch notes of cherry and black pepper as you sip.
  • Voskehat, Armenia's signature white grape and a delicious snacking fruit, offers a light to medium body wine. You can enjoy dessert wines, fine dry vintages and bubblies characterized by floral and fruity notes.
  • Khndoghni, or Sireni, a red grape prevalent in the South Caucasus, provides deep-colored wines with black fruit flavors, robust tannins, and aging potential.


Where to Unwind: Drink in the Ambiance


Yerevan's famous Saryan Street has gradually developed into Armenia’s high street of wine-tasting. Every June, spilling along its thoroughfare, Wine Days transforms the city into a festival of flavors. Purchase a branded glass and booklet of tickets and sample your way through the wines on display. Dilijan joins the celebration in August with its own wine festival, and Areni village – home of the oldest winery – hosts one in October during harvest time. Year-round,  you can visit wineries around the country in the aforementioned wine regions, including full-service wineries and wine “cubes” or tasting rooms. 


But the real treasures are found in the vineyards themselves and in nearby villages, where locals offer small-batch wines bursting with flavors. Here, it’s not just about the grape – try varieties spotlighting cherry, raspberry, apricot, peach, and more! 


You can even participate in the harvest at some small-scale vineyards.


Sip and Celebrate: Armenian Wine Culture


In Armenia, wine flows through the veins of celebration. It’s not just a drink; it's a part of culture, celebration and the church, enriching weekly masses and wedding ceremonies, birthdays and baptisms.  Every special occasion is toasted with this liquid gold. The "tamada" orchestrates the toasts, ensuring your glass is never empty and no sip is taken without an eloquent word in accompaniment. 


Cheers to Memories: Bringing Armenia Home


As you bid farewell to Armenia, carry a piece of it home with you. What better way to spin the tales of your journey than over a bottle of its exclusive vintage?


You can carry up to two liters of the finest Armenian wines in your suitcase. And for a last-minute indulgence, explore the duty-free section at Zvartnots Airport. 




So, Կենա՜ց (that’s “cheers!” in Armenian). Dive into a world of whites, reds, rosés, and bubblies, sample organic, natural wines, and dare to try the vibrant orange ones! Armenia invites you to a sensory symphony that promises to linger in your heart long after the last drop. 

Published on July 22, 2024