"When we go to the winery," asks a Greek tourist who just sat in a sprinter from Yerani, with whom we travel on a tour to the Khor Virap and Noravank monasteries, with visits to the archaeological site in Areni, also known for vineyards and one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. Beside him sits a sleek German who says in a low voice that this is the last stop of our trip. For most of the ride, marked by avoiding patches on the road, the Greek slept through.
The road takes us across the corner of Armenia that connects the three countries. But from here one can get nowhere except the Armenian side. From the roundabout, the roads continue to Turkey and Nakhichevan (which is under the control of Azerbaijan), but it does not reach this far. Already from the roundabout you can see the wall that surrounds the border line, and on the other side are the observation posts. Not wanting to ask if we had bulletproof vests in our van, we rushed to continue our journey to the beautiful Armenian monasteries.
After descending from the mountain heights where Noravank is located, our Greek friend finally got a broad smile on his face. We came at the Hin Arena Winery. Armenia is known around the world as a cognac country, but lately there is more and more excellent wine in this country. It was here, in the Ararat valley, that man first began to grow vines. This is what the Bible tells us. After the deluge and stranding on Mount Ararat, Noah planted the first vine right here. Archaeological research has shown that the ancient state of Urartu was rich in vineyards, which was later confirmed by Greek writers.
Areni is one of those oldest grape varieties. It is located in the mountains just off the border with Nakhichevan, on the main thoroughfare connecting Armenia's north and south. This is the last place to think about planting a vine. The area is high in the mountains and the ground is volcanic. Yet, this is where this resistant grape variety, which has been continuously cultivated for over 6,000 years, originated. Today, this tradition is proudly continued by the Hin Areni winery, whose vineyards are located at Tapq, Getap and Ishkatap, on 32 acres at 1215 to 1250 meters in height.
From its humble beginnings in 2007, one of the most famous Armenian wineries has emerged. The historical tradition of winemaking and cellar management is combined with the modern production and design style of Argentinean Mario Japaz. The equipment is from Italy and France, and grapes are harvested exclusively by hand. After selection, light pressing in pneumatic presses follows. The wine is then stored in stainless steel or oak barrels from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Hungary.
"Now let's taste it!" shouts our Greek companion, and we cannot resist it. A beautifully decorated tasting room can accommodate entire groups of tourists, which is not the most beautiful way to taste wine, but at least we get to know this volcanic wine of the Armenian plateau. The hosts are most proud of their white variety Voskehat, which means Golden Seed. Voskehat is considered the queen of Armenian varieties. The wine we tried has a very pronounced structure, floral aromas, with the aroma of honey and apricot, but also with acids at the end of the palate. Wine we would like to drink in the summer on the Armenian hills above the Areni! We were then offered an elegant but very pale Rose. Unusually mild, it has left no mark on our palates, but it is certainly a wine that should be added to fans of the pink varieties.
Our favourite though is the black variety of Areni, which has survived the harsh climate for centuries and developed a special soil character. The Hin Areni is used to blend the varieties of Areni, Seyrak Areni, Tozot and Movuz, as a traditional blend of this region that produces complex but delicate wine. The rich aromas of the forest fruits and the fullness of the flavours are the characteristics of this superb Armenian wine. Of course, all three wines are on sale to each passer-by, and if one tasting is not enough, there is a bar next to the tasting room for additional tasting.
Hin Areni Winery
Areni Village, Vayots Dzor Region, Armenia
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hinareniwine.am
Phone: (+374 41) 23 41 11