Fine wines emanate from far and wide. No one country or wine region has a monopoly on quality wine, though only one country, Armenia, can rightly claim to be the birthplace of wine. Even more importantly, Armenia has consistently fashioned quality wine longer than anywhere else on earth. In spite of centuries of domination by larger neighbors and genocidal attempts to extinguish Armenia and its people, Armenia is alive and well and so are its wines. And, nowhere in this small mountainous country is wine more important and its land more suitable for the cultivation of the vine than Vayots Dzor.
Located in southeastern Armenia in the Caucasus Mountains between Asia and Europe, Vayots Dzor is Armenia’s crown jewel and the site of the Earth’s oldest winemaking facility, the Areni-1 cave complex. Recently unearthed, the 6,100-year-old caves contain definitive archaeological evidence of advanced winemaking, including the possible use of sulfur as a preservative. Moreover, archeological excavations carried out in the 1940s reveal that as early as the first millennium B.C., during the Kingdom of Van, Vayots Dzor was western Asia’s leading wine producing region. Longer than anywhere else on earth, Vayots Dzor has continuously produced fine wine from indigenous grape varieties, a practice that continues, and Armenia is once again attracting the world’s attention for its venerable wines.
Vayots Dzor is home to many of Armenia’s ancient traditional grape varieties, including Areni, Khatoun Kharj, Tozot, and Voskehat. These are grapes whose names are difficult for outsiders to pronounce and, unfortunately, they are relatively unknown outside of Armenia. Areni, also known as Areni-Noir, is the region’s most prized red grape. It takes its name from the Vayots Dzor village of Areni where the oldest winemaking facility was recently discovered. Areni is a hardy, thick-skinned grape with excellent disease resistance and a proven adaptability to Vayots Dzor’s extreme growing conditions. It is produced in a myriad of styles, all worth seeking out. Equally impressive is the region’s leading white grape variety, Voskehat. Although quite hearty, it produces a highly aromatic white wine of surprising delicacy and elegance. We invite you to explore the fine wines of Armenia’s Vayots Dzor as there is much to enjoy. Moreover, Armenian wines rightly deserve recognition beyond their native land. Taste and enjoy!