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From vine to wine: follow a grape's journey

From vine to wine: follow a grape's journey image

Based on archaeological evidence from the Areni-1 Cave in the Vayots Dzor region, Armenia has been producing wine since at least 4000 BCE. Blessed by warm summers and mild winters, the Vayots Dzor region boasts the highest elevation of wine production in the Caucasus. Become part of this ancient winemaking tradition by joining a Vayots Dzor family in different stages of the process on their small vineyard in Areni.

The region produces the well-known Areni grape among other local grape varieties. In Areni, the village of the same name, dozens of families draw upon generations of traditions to continue producing homemade wine. One family, Gevorg and Svetlana, will share their firsthand experience of winemaking in Areni.

Gevorg, a natural-born storyteller, will begin the visit by introducing his family’s vineyard and the process of transforming grapes into wine. Depending on the season, you can help “dry prune” the grapevines (in spring); pick the leaves (as the grapes are ripening in summer); or harvest, spread, crush, and stomp the grapes (in autumn). Whatever the season, Gevorg will share his extensive knowledge of grape cultivation and winemaking, including fun tidbits of wine-drinking culture in Armenia such as different toasts for different occasions.

After learning about winemaking, it’s time to eat! Grape leaves are an essential ingredient and the foundation for the tolma-making experience that follows. Svetlana knows all the tricks to make tasty tolmasoftening the grape leaves, preparing the meat, mixing the ingredients, and using grape leaves to wrap this hallmark Armenian delicacy. The river that weaves through the town of Areni is also famous for koghak, a fish caught by locals. Along with the tolma, Svetlana will demonstrate how to cook koghak, using grapevine branches that are washed and cooked in a saucepan with potatoes and tomatoes, before finally placing the fish on top. After leaving the dishes to cook, your hosts will take you to visit their cellar for tasting wine as they tell stories about their family and Armenian winemaking culture.

Meet your hosts

Gevorg and Svetlana share a similar story with the majority of families living in late-Soviet Areni and are helping to keep Areni’s local winemaking heritage alive. The married couple is full of warm hospitality and stands apart with their ability to learn and innovate, combined with their inquisitive minds and an incessant desire to build better lives together. If given the chance, Gevorg can spend hours talking about the history of the region and the village, as well as local Areni and Armenian viniculture and winemaking. Svetlana shares the nuances of the local cuisine. All of this contributes to making a wonderful, human-centered tourism experience. The story of Gevorg and Svetlana is about the right combination of the traditional and the new, and about the friendships that build when hosts welcome all visitors. You walk away not just as friends, but as new members of the family.

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

My Armenia Program

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