ARMENIAN WINEMAKING DATING BACK TO 6,100 YEARS. "ARMAS ESTATE"
February 13, 2015
ArmAs is revitalizing Armenia's winemaking legacy by creating elegant
wines that stem from one of our country's best natural resources,
the idyllic terroir of the vine.
It is no coincidence that Armenia, known as the birthplace of the
vine, is also the site of the oldest known winemaking ruins, dating
back to 6,100 years.
Winemaker Emilio Del Medico has paid homage to this heritage by
creating award winning, elegant and distinct wines from estate grown
ArmAs Estate is a picturesque display of agricultural achievement, set
against the backdrop of the inspiring Mount Ararat. The 180 hectares
of previously desolate and disconnected rock-strewn countryside was
diligently transformed into a stunning panorama including vineyards,
orchards, and a world-class winery. The endeavor proudly involved
and united hundreds of people from various villages, countries, and
backgrounds who continue to teach and learn from one another. The
continued realization of the ArmAs Estate is illustrative of progress
through guidance and cooperation, and represents the assimilation of
tradition with development. Indeed, the ensuing ArmAs wines convey
these improvements, and speak especially of the abundant sunshine,
volcanic soil, undulating terrain and magnanimous earth of a resilient
Known as the birthplace of the vine, Armenia is the acknowledged site
of the origins, as well as domestication of the wild grape to its
cultivated contemporary form. This designation has both a biblical
testimony and an archaeological confirmation. According to the Old
Testament, Noah's Ark came to rest at the peak of Mount Ararat. As
the water subsided, Noah and his sons journeyed down to valleys of
modern day Armenia, and upon recognition of the fertile soil in this
unique terrain, they planted the first vines.
In 2010, carbon dating of remains discovered by archaeologists in the
Areni-1 Cave complex, in the Vayots Dzor region definitively proved
Armenia to be the site of the world's oldest-known wine production
facility, dating back to 6,100 years. The remains of grapes, seeds,
and dozens of dried vines were also found in this location, all of
the genus species Vitis Vinifera. Known as the "common grape vine,"
most wines produced in the world today are of this variety and have
their originating roots in the surrounding regions.
ARMENIAN WINEMAKING DATING BACK TO 6,100 YEARS. "ARMAS ESTATE"
Posted 14 February 2015 - 10:04 AM
ARMENIAN WINEMAKING DATING BACK TO 6,100 YEARS. "ARMAS ESTATE"
- MosJan likes this
Posted 14 October 2016 - 09:50 AM
Wine has been a part of human life, culture, and diet, since time immemorial. In ancient Greece, wine was praised by poets, historians, and artists, and was frequently referred to in the works of Aesop and Homer.
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, represented not only the intoxicating power of wine but also its social and beneficial influences.
Wine is far older than recorded history and could date back over 20 million years ago, as fermenting yeasts evolved together with fruit bearing flowering plants.
People began to grow grapes probably a little after they began growing wheat, around 8000 BC. In ancient times, wine was considered to be a magical, spontaneous gift of nature.Hellenistic mosaics discovered close to the city of Paphos depicting Dionysos, god of wine.
The oldest winery in the world has been uncovered in a cave in the mountains of Armenia. An international team of researchers discovered drinking bowl, a grape press, a cup, and fermentation jars dating to about 6,100 years ago in the cave at the area called Areni-1 in Armenia.
Older evidence of wine drinking has been found, but this is the earliest example of complete wine production.
The Areni-1 cave complex is located in the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province of the Republic of Armenia. 7 months before the winery was discovered, the world’s oldest leather shoe, the Areni-1 shoe, was found in the same cave. The village of Areni it’s known for its wine production.The entrance of the Areni-1 cave complex. Photo Credit
The press and wide, shallow vat that was found in the cave are similar to foot-stomping type equipment used by people throughout the region even up into the 19th century.
Botanists examined the find say it was the species Vitis vinifera, the same one used to produce the vast majority of wine today.
Gregory Areshian, co-director of the excavation and assistant director of the University of California Los Angeles’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology says the wine would be comparable to a modern unfiltered red wine and may have had a similar taste to a merlot.Panorama of the Areni-1 site along the Arpa River. Photo Credit
As Areshian, says before this winery was discovered, the oldest known winery was in Israel and dated to 1650 BC.
Archaeologists could not tell a lot about the people who distilled and drank the wine, but for them, it’s clear that the people who produced wine in the cave winery used it for ceremonial purposes. Probably for funeral ceremonies, since it was discovered that the cave was once an important cemetery site.The archaeological site of Areni-1 in 2012. Photo Credit
This discovery shows that people developed agriculture and that they had horticultural skills even back in 4,000 BC. And as Areshian says, “Producing this wine would have been a high technology of the time incorporating detailed knowledge of watering cycles, pruning the vines, how to deal with pests and the fermentation process itself, which is more complex than brewing beer.”
- MosJan likes this
Posted 02 November 2016 - 07:45 AM
Travelers Today By Angela Ordonez
Updated: Nov 01, 2016 02:33 PM EDT
According to news report by Smithsonian, an Armenian wine expert highlighted the best places to experience the rebirth of a wine culture stifled under Soviet rule
Armenia has been recognized as the foundation of wine making. Even the 18th Century BC Kings of Urartu coined the ancient Armenia as the "land of the vineyards".
Assyrian armies wondered the massive quantities of its vines and trees. In Genesis, it is in the mountain of Ararat where Noah first planted its seed as explained in Smithsonian.
The report also states that Armenia's culture in traditional winemaking had been changed during the Soviet rule.
Researchers in the University of California, Los Angeles and the Armenian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, discovered the oldest winery in southeastern Armenia, in the village of Areni.
Driven by the recent discovery, a new generation of post-communism vintners has set out to regain Armenia's winemaking legacy.
Vahe is committed to reinvigorating the Armenia's wine culture. He said that Armenian viticulture is undergoing a "rebirth".
"There's a very good, positive energy in Armenia now," Vahe said.
"It's the right time to discover what's happening", he added in a statement in Smithsonian.
To experience the best of Armenia's wine renaissance, Mr. Vahe Keushguerian recommends the following Wineries destinations, as specified in the Smithsonian news report:
Zorah Wines in Rind, Vayots Dzor - the Zorah Karasi Areni Noir is one of the best wines in the world, as Bloomberg named it.
Old Bridge in Yeghegnadzor, Vayots Dzor - Old Bridge B&B is a family-run vineyard that doubles as a bed and breakfast. Guests can also visit the ancient bridge to which the winery is named.
Hin Areni in Areni, Vayots Dzor - the winery features state-of-the-art equipment, but the team at Hin Areni handpicks their grapes and stores them in barrels made from local, Artskah oak.
Getnatoun in Vernashen, Vayots Dzor - uses natural fermentation methods and a meticulous production process to craftaward-winning wine varieties
Van Ardi in Ashtarak, Aragatsotn - spreads out over rolling hills in picturesque Ashtarak, an ancient winemaking region comparable to Vayots Dzor.
Mr. Vahe was asked what needs to be done to revive the Armenia's wine industry. His answers tackle about the need to reacquire our wine culture, pointers on the challenges regarding narrative of the industry and marketing
"I am a positive person and I see huge potential in the future of Armenian wine. We are blessed with good vineyards. But one thing we lack is institutional support. We don't have the resources for research," he said during his interview with Exotic Wine Travel.
- MosJan likes this
Posted 15 February 2017 - 09:19 AM
The enormous 240-gallon clay vessel, or karas, was nestled snugly in the corner of Asli Saghatelyan’s maran (storage cellar) in Chiva, a modest village in the Vayots Dzor region of Armenia. Asli and her son Mushegh watched with curious faces as I beheld their egg-shaped earthenware with awe.
The Saghatelyans no longer use this forlorn family heirloom, the girth of which exceeds the width of the door’s frame. It belonged to the family’s now-deceased patriarch, who used it to make homemade wine through a traditional process of fermentation and storage that people in this region have used for millennia. At one point, the family possessed at least five of them. Today only two are still intact.
This scene of giant karases, now sitting dusty and idle for decades in the basements of Armenia’s villagers, is a strangely common one in this particular region. The villagers don’t use them anymore, but the pots are so large they cannot be transported it out of their homes without the karas being smashed, or the wall of the basement being demo-ed. You can imagine the residents of Chiva rarely choose the latter option.
The karases I saw that day date back to mid-twentieth century, but it’s not the age of the Minasyans’ and the Saghatelyans’ pots that made them so interesting to me. It’s the threat of their extinction in the region. Karases have had an uninterrupted six millennia presence in this part of the world, but only in the last few decades, they’ve fallen into obscurity.
Boris Gasparyan, a researcher at the Institute for Archaeology and Ethnography (IAE) in Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences, who led the excavations at the now-famous Areni-1 cave complex, has spent much time pondering the phenomenon of karas.
His interest intensified after he and his team discovered one of the world’s oldest wine production facilities in Areni-1. The numerous clay pots uncovered at the site once held some of mankind’s earliest experiments in viticulture. Chemical analyses even allowed researchers to speculate that ancient peoples mixed wine and blood together, leading wine expert Tim Atkin to joke in 2012 when he visited the site, that it “gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘full-bodied wine.’”
The value of karases across millennia appears to be, judging by its morphology and physical evolution, defined primarily by their intimate relationship to wine. Gasparyan says that any other functions were secondary, though “people used them even as coffins!”
In the first millennium BC, in the Kingdom of Van (also known as the Urartian Kingdom), karases reached their peak—in size, technology, and quality. Wine had become a valuable commercial commodity since many neighboring empires lacked the ideal climates for growing grapes. “We can even compare wine to U.S. dollars,” Gasparyan said. “Wine was circulating. It had great value. It was money. It was not only for consumption.”
Urartian kings grew desperate to develop methods of storing their precious commodity in large quantities. Experimenting with clay forms, which had been the material used for storing liquids in many ancient civilizations, provided an immediate solution. Pottery eventually developed into a separate and thriving industry in Urartu, second only to agriculture, and just as the history of wine is critical to understanding karas, its relationship to clay is just as important.
According to an article investigating Urartian karases by historians Leman Haupt and Grigor Khapantsyan in the 1950s, craftsmen would make six to ten karases simultaneously, using their fingers to shape ribs around the opening in an intricate process of coiling. But by far the most complicated element in making them, distinguishing the vessels from other clay-made instruments, was the process of drying and baking, which required an oven that could fit the enormous size of an Urartian karas.
Archaeological excavations in 1949 in the administrative and economic center of Teishebaini (Karmir Blour in Armenian) confirmed the advanced state of the Urartians’ karas making. In this famous site twenty minutes outside of Armenia’s capital, researchers found cellars containing rows and rows of hundreds of giant vessels, with cuneiform inscriptions on their rims indicating an intricate system of labelling volume. This cellar alone stored upward of 100,000 gallons of wine.
Karases maintained value long after Urartian rule. By the early twentieth century, one karas was worth an estimated three or four hundred rubles, about the cost of a cow. Since this was a large sum for most villagers, it was important to regulate an insurance policy. In 1184, Mkhitar Gosh devoted a chapter to karases in Datastanagirk, Armenia’s first legal document, providing purchasers with a clause that reads eerily similar to a one-year warranty.
When Armenians moved toward industrial winemaking in the twentieth century, demand for these traditional storage vessels inevitably decreased. Mass production in Soviet factories meant wine was now available in grocery stores. Domestic winemaking—and by association, karases—spiralled into obsolescence in Armenia’s developed areas.Excavations in Shnogh, Lori Province, in 2009 revealed a thirteenth century winery. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Suren Hobosyan)
In Vayots Dzor and Armavir, regions historically tied to winemaking, rural communities continued using karas well into the 1990s, but the generation that used them is nearly gone. Asli Saghatelyan told me that after her father-in-law passed away, her children opted to use other methods of homemade wine production. “Different generations gained different interests. My son knows how to make wine using karas, but we prefer to use more modern technology, as the karas is quite a hassle.”
Professor Suren Hobosyan, head of the ethnography department at the IAE, can attest to those difficulties. In addition to the karas, he says there was an elaborate “kit” of vessels and instruments for domestic wine production. It takes forty days to make wine in the karas, and once it is sealed it will stay good for years. However, when you open it, you have to consume it very quickly—approximately ten to fifteen days—before it spoils.
For this reason, opening a karas became a ceremonial ritual. Many rural communities saved karas openings for weddings and other joyful events. Sometimes the opening was its own cause for celebration, and villagers would invite their friends and family to partake in the festivities.
Which brings us back to the last generation of giant egg-shaped pots waiting to be disposed of in villagers’ basements. Who, if anyone, still uses the karas today? How were Armenia’s Georgian neighbors able to retain this tradition and go on to gain international recognition for it? And, perhaps most importantly, is there anyone alive in Armenia who still knows how to make them?(Photo courtesy of drinktheworld.com)
Karine Vann is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn and a storytelling contributor to My Armenia, where she writes about Armenia’s rich natural and cultural heritage.
Posted 03 March 2017 - 10:50 AM
Armenian wineries recorded unprecedented success at the “MUNDUS VINI 20th Grand International Wine Awards” held in Germany on February 25. The Ministry of Agriculture reports the products presented by Armenian wine companies won 23 medals in total, including 10 gold and 13 silver.
As the release informs, in total 58 varieties of Armenian sparkling and fortified wine represented by 19 wineries were presented to the highly qualified international jury comprising around 200 oenologists, wine-makers, professional wine traders, sommeliers and expert journalists with Armenian winemaker, Head of “Trinity” Company Artem Parseghian among them.
The competition registered some 6,000 entries from 44 countries representing the major wine-growing regions in the world. With number of prizes won Armenia left behind countries such as Georgia (4 Gold, 7 Silver), Moldova (8 Gold, 12 Silver), Macedonia (6 Gold, 3 Silver), Romania (6 Gold, 5 Silver), China (1 Gold, 1 Silver). In terms of the overall medals won, Armenia shared the 14th position with New Zealand and Hungary.
Meantime, in the scope of the international award the Director at “Golden Grape Armas” winery Viktoria Aslanyan made a presentation about Armenian wines that was recognized as the best presentation.
Armenian wineries’ participation in the event was facilitated by the Viticulture and Winemaking Foundation of Armenia supported by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI).
As the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture reports, the main goal of the participation at the fair was to introduce the Armenian wine to foreign buyers and seek expansion of the consumption market. The ministry has also released the list of the winners.
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