Winemaking in cultural Armenia

“The peculiarity of Armenian wine is that you have a feeling which you can not express in words” Charles Aznavour

Armenia is the leading country in the region for winemaking, as winemaking in Armenia has about 6,000-years-long history. From the pagan times, there was a tradition to cook chrism from thousands of plants in Armenia. Roman historians tell that, in the first century, Nero tasted the chrism that was sent from Armenia and became happy. Scientists have discovered Armenian winemaking winepresses, wine’s pots, carbonated nuts of wine, numerous cuneiform inscriptions, sculptures and other documents in Armenia left from ancient times. All this proves that the roots of Armenian winemaking are really deep and winemaking in the Ararat Valley has a centuries-old history. Wine remnants, containers of grape nuts and winemaking equipment were found in caves near Areni village. These researchers of the history of winemaking were made by a group made up of Armenians, Americans and Irishmen in the ancient world. Armenians were the first to export wine. For two thousand years, the Armenian winemakers’ products have appeared on the tables of high-ranking people from different countries, which also proved written sources. Armenian wines are incomparable and this is due to the high percentage of sugar in the content of Armenian grape varieties, which enhances to produce much stronger and semi-sweet wines. According to the data of the Union of Armenian Winemakers, today about 40 winemaking companies produce more than 100 varieties of wine in Armenia. Each year up to 6 million bottles of wine are produced, hence Armenian winemakers have produced 43,000 hectoliters of wine so far.  We may talk about Armenian wine, viticulture and the history of winemaking endlessly. Grape vines, crocks of wine and grape’s bunches have always been a part of Armenian ornaments. But the most important thing is the meaning. Armenians use wine during all rituals as Armenia is the homeland of wine. The traditions of viticulture and winemaking are widely used in Armenia, and the proof of this are the wine festivals organized in Armenia and Artsakh and are accompanied by all mythological stories and traditions. Each year wine festivals are organized in Areni and usually, take place in autumn. During the festival, participants welcome the guests with the best wines produced in the village. The festival opens with a parade of the best winemakers and continues with many other events, including public and professional tasting of the wine, traditional dishes of the country’s best restaurants, music, dance, games, performances and programs with favorite artists, and contests, for example, “Armenia with Your Eyes”,  ”Best Wine Label” and “Best Homemade Wine”.

The Armenian folk proverb is «Որտեղ հաց էն տեղ կաց, որտեղգինի, էնտեղ քնի» which means ”If there is a bread, stay there, if there is a wine, sleep there”. Artsakh people also organize wine festivals to enhance tourism and culture. The first wine festival in Artsakh was held on October 18 in 2014 in the Togh village in Hadrout region. The goal of the festival was to enhance tourism and winemaking in Artsakh. The initiator of the festival was the Department of Tourism and Historical Environment Protection of the Artsakh Republic. The speakers of the festival highlighted the importance of the development of winemaking in Artsakh. Usually, the festival program includes the ancient and unique ritual which begins with wine squeezing, tasting Artsakh traditional dishes, the exhibition of artworks, exhibitions of archaeological findings of Togh Melikian Palace and the exhibition of wine producers, where five regions of Artsakh, and Armenia will present their wines. These and other facts have given scientists a right to declare about the Armenian origin of grapes. And it is not in vain that French say that Armenians made wine, Greeks created business and French created art. According to Charles Aznavour, “The peculiarity of Armenian wine is that you have a feeling which you can not express in words.”