ABOUT ARMENIAN WINE
Welcome to Armenia’s Winemaking Renaissance.
With millennia of history, high-elevation vineyards, and an array of limestone and volcanic soils, wine from Armenia is primed to take center stage.
History of Armenian Wine
The wines of Armenia are truly ancient.
According to biblical texts, Noah’s ark arrived at Mount Ararat, a snow-capped dormant volcano that presides over the modern-day intersection of Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, in what is now Eastern Turkey. As the story goes, when the flood waters receded, Noah planted vineyards in the Ararat Valley, which now is one of several winemaking regions in the Republic of Armenia.
Evidence of Armenian wine in antiquity includes the Areni-1 cave, a 6,100-year-old winery from the Early Bronze Age. Considered the oldest excavated winemaking facility in the world, the Areni-1 cave spans several chambers and contains fermentation vats, a wine press, shards of ancient pottery, and more. Some researchers trace the history of wine in Armenia back even further to an Iron Age agricultural system in the 8th century B.C.E.
Armenia wine and winemaking continued through the Greek and Roman Empires to the Medieval era. Manuscripts, mosaics, and other artifacts from the Middle Ages depict Armenian viticulture and wine consumption at banquets and church services.
The Soviet period changed wine in Armenia, requiring producers to prioritize brandy and bulk wine production over traditional processes and indigenous grape varieties. When the U.S.S.R. fell in 1991, Armenia gained its independence, and a new generation of Armenian winemakers and grape-growers began to revitalize the country’s storied wine culture.
These innovators are returning ancient soils and once-neglected vines to health, and re-embracing indigenous wine grapes like Areni and Voskehat. They couple historic traditions with cutting-edge technology and winemaking expertise honed in universities, vineyards, and wineries in Armenia and around the world. Their wines are rooted in history but reach toward the future.
This is the story of wine from Armenia. Storica, the top importer of Armenian wine to the United States, is eager to share it. It’s a tale of rediscovery and renaissance, and of wines ripe for the picking and ready for the world’s stage.
Armenian Wine Grapes
Armenia wine is varied because the country itself is rich in grapevine diversity.
The 30 native grape varieties currently cultivated in Armenia can produce dry red wine, dry white wine, sparkling wine, and more.
Select grapes used for wine in Armenia include:
Called the Pinot Noir of Armenia, this dry red wine grape produces diverse expressions, including medium-bodied bottles with excellent acidity alongside notes of cherry and other red fruits, as well as layered, barrel-aged red wines beautifully suited to aging.
Examples of quality Areni wines include the highly aromatic Noa Areni, which has cherry and cedar flavors on its textured palate; deeply expressive Van Ardi Areni Reserve from the Ashtarak region; refreshing Zulal Areni, which is made from Areni grapes grown in volcanic soils; and crisp, fruit-forward Shofer Rosé. Additionally, Keush’s ‘Ultra’ Blanc de Noirs is a dry, mineral-driven sparkler made from 100% Areni.
The most popular white wine grape in Armenia, Voskehat produces dry white wines with a range of stone fruit aromas and flavors, as well as notes of honeysuckle, tropical fruit like pineapple, and minerally notes, depending on the vinification process, and where and how the grapes were grown and cultivated.
Voskehat wines to try include Oshin Voskehat, a crisp, lemon- and peach-scented white wine with ample acidity and a creamy texture; and Voskevaz Karasi Collection Voskehat, a full-bodied expression fermented in traditional clay karas and matured in oak, which has layered citrus and pear flavors coupled with toasty oak aromas. Voskehat is also blended with other white wine varieties such as Khatouni, as in Keush Blanc de Blancs, a single-harvest sparkling wine with stone fruit and citrus flavors and a dry, nutty finish.
Some researchers believe Voskehat was named after a village near Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.
Elevation in Armenian Wine Regions
Armenia is a mountainous country, with high-elevation vineyards some 2,000-4,500 feet above sea level.
These high-elevation vineyards receive direct, concentrated sunlight and experience dramatic diurnal shifts that stress the grapes and extend their ripening periods. As a result, the fruit develops thicker skins and concentrated flavors.
In the glass, Armenian wines have vivid colors, vibrant flavor profiles, and the strong tannins essential for aging.
Soil and Armenian Wine
Most Armenian wine grapes grow in volcanic soils, with some areas of limestone and clay in the southern parts of the country. These volcanic soils have good drainage, which encourages grapevines to extend roots deep into the earth to seek the nutrients they need to thrive. And so, wine from Armenia grown in volcanic soil tends to have developed flavors and texture compounds as a result.
Similarly, limestone soil retains moisture in dry weather, making it suited to climatic shifts. It too is a well-draining soil, preserving the health of Armenian wine grapes when temperatures decline.
Explore Our Armenian Wines
Founded in 2013 by Vahe Keushguerian, Keush is the first traditional-method sparkling wine crafted from indigenous Armenian grape varieties. Keushguerian and his team source Voskehat, Areni, and Khatouni grapes from high-elevation volcanic soils in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor region.
At more than 5,000 feet above sea level, these are the highest vineyards in Armenia and among the highest vineyards in the world to produce traditional-method sparkling wines.
A collaboration between esteemed Swiss winemaker Jakob Schuler and Armenian master oenologist Armen Manukyan, Noa produces minimal-intervention wines from high-altitude plots in southeastern Vayots Dzor.
Bottlings include an unoaked white blend made with Voskehat and Khatouni, as well as varietal and reserve Areni red wines. Noa’s Areni wines are made with hand-harvested grapes and fermented in stainless steel, and portions are aged in wood barrels to create richly layered dry red wines.
Armenian winemakers Vahe Keushguerian, Vahe Gabrache, and Arman Manoukian founded this small-production winery in 2017. Their fruit is grown on old vines approximately 40-60 years old in Vayots Dzor, and the resulting grapes are nuanced, balanced, and deeply concentrated.
Oshin’s limited-production range includes barrel-fermented Voskehat white wine and barrel-aged Areni red wine, both of which are elegant and age-worthy.
Named for the Armenian word for “chauffeur,” these wines are as bright and boisterous as the cabbies who help visitors and locals alike explore Armenia’s diverse terrain.
Bottlings include Shofer Rosé, a refreshing wine made with 100% Areni, the leading dry red wine grape in Armenia; as well as Shofer Areni, a dry red wine characterized by bright red berries; and Shofer Voskehat, a dry white wine with stone fruit and herbal flavors.
Located in Aragatsotn, a historic winemaking region in the foothills of Mount Aragats, this organic winery is helmed by Varuzhan Mouradian, who lived in Los Angeles for years before returning to his native Armenia in 2008 to found the estate.
Named for the ancient Armenian capital to which Mouradian trades his ancestry, Van Ardi’s wines include a varietal Areni red wine and a complex red blend made with three indigenous Armenian red wine grapes: Areni, Kakhet, and Haghtanak.
This family-owned winery in Armenia’s Aragatsotn region sources grapes from across the country for its Karasi Collection. Fermented in the traditional clay amphorae known as karas, and matured in oak barrels, Voskevaz’s wines marry ancient and modern traditions and techniques.
The company is helmed by three brothers. David Hovhannisyan acquired the winery in 1997, and was later joined by eldest sibling Gagik Oganesyan, an artist and architect, and Armen Oganesyan, a metalworker who created the iron and bronze accents throughout their estate.
Second-generation winemaker Aimee Keushguerian founded Zulal in 2017. The name means “pure” in Armenian, and Zulal aims to express its wines’ distinctive character via high-elevation viticulture and volcanic soils.
In addition to Areni and Voskehat, Keushguerian features lesser-known Armenian wine grapes like Koghbeni, Karmir Kot, Sireni, and Kakhet from small-production growers.