The Smithsonian Magazine has published an article about Armenia as a cradle of winemaking, suggesting that the eighth-century BC kings of Urartu referred to ancient Armenia as “the land of the vineyards” and Assyrian armies marveled at its vast quantities of fruit trees and vines. According to Genesis, it is in the mountains of Ararat that Noah plants the first vineyard and becomes drunk on wine.
“Centuries later, however, the Soviet rule nearly erased traditional winemaking from Armenia’s culture. From the 1930s through the early 90s, Armenian winemakers received instruction to mass-produce fortified wines and brandy rather than traditional Armenian table wines. Needing constant attention and supervision, many vineyards fell into disrepair, and it wasn’t until the late 1990s that winemakers started to breathe life back into the industry,” the article says.
The Smithsonian reminds that in 2010, researchers with the University of California, Los Angeles and the Armenian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography unearthed archeological evidence of the world’s oldest known winery in the village of Areni in southeastern Armenia.
“Beneath a layer of sheep manure inside a cave, the remains of crushed grapes and vessels for collecting and fermenting grape juice dating to 6,100 years ago were recovered, proving that humans produced wine systematically one thousand years earlier than thought. Additionally, traces of a grape used in red wine production today were found on pot shards at the excavation site, forging a new link between ancient and modern wine production,” it says.
“Fueled by the recent discovery, a new generation of post-communism vintners has set out to reclaim Armenia’s winemaking heritage, identifying and reintroducing historic grape varietals.
“Part of what distinguishes Armenian wine is its exceptional terroir, or the collection of environmental factors that influences grape growth – some of the highest wine-growing elevations in the northern hemisphere, diverse microclimates and rich, volcanic soils lend distinct flavors to an array of indigenous grape varietals.”
The publication goes on to suggest several destinations to experience the best of Armenia’s wine renaissance, which include Rind, Areni and Yeghegnadzor in Vayots Dzor province, as well as Ashtarak in Aragatsotn province.
The Smithsonian has covered the ancient Armenian winemaking and its rebirth time and time again. It unveiled an article about therenaissance of Armenian wine back in spring.