Armenia Wine Tour

Overview

Ancient accounts have long acknowledged Armenia as a cradle of winemaking. In 2007, 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. 

Being one of the top 15 wine tour destinations in the world according to CNN, Armenia offers most diverse tours to best local wineries complete with production facility visits and tastings.Whether you are a professional winemaker, a connoisseur or an enthusiast, Armenia is definitely the next pin on your wine world map.

Armenia is also known for its brandy.  Churchill used to say “Never be late for dinner, smoke Havana cigars and drink Armenian brandy”. People say that he drank a bottle of Armenian brandy per day. So why not to taste the brandy which has historical significance?

Itinerary

DAY 1 - ARRIVAL 
Arrival at Zvartnots International airport in Yerevan. Meet & greet transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

DAY 2 - OLD NORK – EREBUNI – CASCADE – SARYAN STREET
After breakfast we start our exploration from the Republic Square, the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian. Continue to the Opera House, a stunning architectural piece and the hub of Yerevan. Freedom Square is just behind, surrounded by parks which have been taken over by outdoor cafes, and finally Swan Lake. We visit Cascade Complex, an open-air museum of modern art with massive stairways leading up to the Victory Park providing a fantastic overlook to the entire downtown from above. Then we will plunge into the history of wine production in the Erebuni Archaeological Museum-Reserve. Erebuni Fortress was built in 782 BC. - and it is from this time that the age of Yerevan is counted. During archaeological excavations on the territory of the fortress, 5 grain and 6 wine cellars were discovered, where there were about 200 huge crucians. You can get acquainted with these and other finds in the museum.

Then drive to Old Nork district on the hill. Historical folk architecture has been preserved here, as well as a beautiful view of the city. It is in such old houses as in this quarter that traditional maranas - wine cellars - have been preserved. One of these restaurants that we recommend is Kehar, which is open in an old house with maran. Here you can taste the wine produced in this very interesting place and have a lunch. In addition, the owners of the restaurant conduct guided tours of the basements of the house, which is very interesting. In the evening you can go to Saryan Street. Named after the famous Armenian artist, in recent years this street has become especially attractive and moving. Wine restaurants are opening here one after another, where you can taste both the best Armenian and foreign wines. And the pioneers on the wine street were the owners of the restaurant In Vino, which also sells wine. Other famous places on the street to visit: Tapastan, Voskevaz Wine Time, Gouroo Club & Garden, Smoking Chef and others. After the city tour optional participation in the course "Wine production in Armenia" at the EVN Wine Academy, the only professional wine degustation salon in Yerevan. Here we discover the world of wine and find out amazing facts about wine, winemaking traditions in Armenia, learning to read wine labels and choosing wines (including Armenian) for appropriate occasions, degustation of 5 Armenian wines combined with appetizers.

Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

DAY 3 - HISTORY OF WINE & ARAGATSOTN REGION - SASUNIK VILLAGE - VAN ARDI WINERY - VOSKEVAZ VILLAGE - WINE GRAPE SPA
The regions at the foot of Mount Aragats . There are many excellent wineries located here, located at a distance of 30 minutes to an hour's drive from Yerevan. In these places you can enjoy high-quality wine, admiring the views of the snowy peaks.Drive to Sasunik village, visiting Armenia Wine Factory considering the icon of modern wine making, balancing ancient traditions with the newest technology. The company is also the leader of local market in the quality wine sector as well as the leader in Armenian wine exports. Lunch in a Factory. Museum of the history of wine at the Armenia Wine winery has recently opened. Passing through the massive doors, referring to the Armenian epic "David of Sasun", you go down to the rocky cellar, dug at a depth of 6.5 m in the basalt rock. It was in such cellars that wine was aged in ancient times. Here you can see archaeological artifacts related to winemaking: clay and silver rhytons (ancient drinking vessels in the form of an animal's head down), wine containers, Urartian cuneiform and lithographic inscriptions, as well as medieval manuscripts describing the medicinal properties of wines. After getting back upstairs, we will go to the tasting of the Armenia Wine factory, which also produces cognac. At the factory we can get acquainted with the process of wine production. Then we keep the way to the village of Voskevaz, which is 10 km from Sasunik - to the winery of the same name, more reminiscent of a medieval castle. In 1998, the owner of the winery, David Hovhannisyan, acquired a Soviet winery, which had been operating since 1932, and built an almost real chateau here. Voskevaz wine is made from grapes from different regions of Armenia, but the winery already has its own vineyards in the Ararat Valley. Interesting fact: not far from the winery, near the ruins of the church of the V-VII centuries Badali Jam, fragments of karas were found in which wine was stored. Another confirmation of the antiquity of the history of Armenian winemaking. The boutique winery Van Ardi was founded in 2008 by Varuzhan Muradyan, who moved to Armenia from the United States, "importing" with him the California experience of winemaking. It was with such wineries that the flowering of modern winemaking in Armenia began. Translated from ancient Armenian, the name of the company means "the sun over Van" - the ancient capital of Armenia. It is from there that the ancestors of the owner of the winery come from.The vineyard here is laid out on the territory once recognized as unsuitable for agriculture. Here you can enjoy not only wine, but also views of the peaks of Ararat and Aragats, as well as listen to music and bell ringing, which are often heard here for better grape growth. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

DAY 4 - ARMAVIR – SPIRITUAL & WINE REGION ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – KARAS WINERY – VOSKENI
Departure to Echmiadzin, the center of the Armenian Church and the spiritual center of Armenian people. Visit Echmiadzin Cathedral, the oldest ever-Christian monument in the world. The cathedral was built in 301-303 by Gregory the Enlightener, the first bishop of Armenians. Visit on the way to the ruins of Zvartnots Temple (7th century) which is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Temple used to be a splendid monument of Armenian architecture. Long while ago the earthquake ruined the temple and now even in ruins the temple impresses the visitors. Then we visit Voskeni Wines which located at Ararat valley is a family owned and managed winery. Vineyard was founded by Smbat Mateossian, a successful businessman from Boston, who moved to Armenia in the early 1920-es. He dreamed of his own winery. Unfortunately, Smbat was repressed and his property was confiscated during the Soviet time. In 2008 he bought back the vineyard full of authentic grape varieties and made his dream of high quality wine come true. The diverse Ararat valley microclimates and the extraordinary terroir create unique conditions for cultivating exquisite grape sorts and producing elegant wines reflecting the 6000-year old rich authentic wine making traditions. Our last stop is Karas company, which turned the ideas about Armenian winemaking upside down and influenced its revival, belongs to the famous Argentine businessman Eduardo Ernekyan. The main winemaker of the company - Gabriel Rogel - as well as the chief agronomist - Argentines. And the company is advised by the famous winemaker from France Michel Rolland. The vineyards of Karas grow on an area of 450 hectares. As in many previous cases, once a wasteland of 2300 hectares has turned into a modern winery. Both well-known varieties are grown here: malbec, syrah, cabernet, and local: areni, voskeat, ahtanak and khndogni from Artsakh. And to create experimental wines, the company launched a separate project - "Karas Wine Institute". Back to Yerevan, free time.

DAY 5 - ARENI - EPICENTER OF WINEMAKING KHOR VIRAP – TUSHPA WINERY – HIN ARENI - ARENI CAVE 1
Breakfast at the hotel. Sightseeing tо Khor-Virap monastery 4- 17th cc. In early times it was used as a pit- dungeon for convicts. The religious importance of the monastery is related to the adoption of Christianity in Armenia in 301 AD. The monastery is located in Ararat Valley, at the loop of the biblical Ararat Mountain, were Noah's arch cast anchor. In clear weather you will be lucky to take a great shot of the snow-picked mount at the nearest point. Ararat Valley is the cradle of Armenia wine-making traditions so we proceed to visit Tushpa Winery which is located 35 km from Yerevan, in the village of Taperakan .The company was founded by professional fashion designer Mihran Manasseryan in 1992, naming it after one of the ancient capitals of the state of Urartu. Tushpa vineyards grow on clay soil in the Ararat Valley, and Tushpa wine has been produced since 1999. Here we will take tour inside the factory and enjoy high quality Armenian wine in all its perfection and delicate taste. Winery Hin Areni, was founded in 1994 and fully renovated in 2014 with the introduction of French and Italian systems in a combination of local tradition and modern equipment. The winery was designed by the renowned Argentinean winery design expert Mario Japaz.The name translates as “Old Areni”. The winery has 32 ha of vineyards located in the historical terroir of the village of Areni at altitudes of 1215-1250 m asl. The vineyards are located on a plateau around the village, the soil is stony, well drained and with a high content of limestone. The main grape varieties are Areni Noir and Voskehat. The vineyard uses modern agricultural methods and makes limited use of pesticides. Red wines are aged in oak barriques from Karabakh and France. Visit to Areni cave winery, this is the highlight of the trip for many as the viticulture significance is considerable. The winemaking equipment and residue found in this cave have
been carbon-dated to 6,100 years old and as you stand there, imagining what it would have been like for winemakers thousands of years ago the atmosphere is palpable. Overnight in Areni village in a small guest house Areni Art Wine.

DAY 6 - THE HEART OF ARMENIAN WINEMAKING NORAVANK – TRINITY CANYON WINERY - OLD BRIDGE – TSAGHKUNQ
After breakfast we will take you up into the hills to the spectaculaire Noravank Monastery, one of the most beautiful monastic complexes of Armenia, which is located in the picturesque Amaghu canyon. The site was founded in 1205 and is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Then move on to Trinity Canyon winery where we will meet the winemaker and enjoy one of his creations and will have a tour of the production area at Trinity viewing several Karas both above and below ground. The winemaker will accompany us and give you plenty of info and answer any questions you might have on the ancient or modern methods being used. Established in 2009 by three partners (therefore named Trinity) in the close vicinity of the Areni Cave, Trinity Canyon Vineyards produces a medium-wide range of red and white wines under different labels. Trinity Canyon has 4,5 ha of own vineyard on the Aghavnadzor plateau, at the altitude of 1300 m asl.The two main tendencies in the Trinity production are, on one hand, a classic European wine making
technique, based on local grapes – and in some cases a blend of local and international grapes. Trinity is the only producer in Vayots Dzor that grows international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot next to the local Areni Noir and Voskehat. After time we will head off the short distance to the Old Bridge winery and are met by the owner and winemaker. Armen, the owner at Old Bridge, looking rather pleased with his Caucasian barrel results!Armen is a bit of a character and he will show you around his boutique winery with enthusiasm and explain his methods and objectives. Then we will enjoy lunch at Old Bridge, quaffing a bottle of your favorite offering from this place. Continue drive through Sevan Lake is the second largest alpine freshwater lake in the world and the biggest in the Caucasus. This huge mountain lake which takes a huge territory of Armenia's surface area is about 1900 meters above sea level to Tsaghkunq village. Overnight in a guest house with samll own wine production.

DAY 7 - MELODY OF STONES - PEGAN TEMPLE – CAVE MONASTERY
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to the Kotayk province. Proceed to the village of Garni. The citadel and pagan temple of Garni is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient
Armenian architecture. It was built in the first century A.D. bnery y the Armenian King Tiridates and it is dedicated to a heathen god, probably to Mithra, the god of the sun whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After proclaiming Christianity as a state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat river, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture - Geghard monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. The meaning "the Monastery of the Spear", originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus during his crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Lunch in a local house in Garni where you will have opportunity to watch Armenian national bread “lavash” baking and barbeque making process in the underground stove called “tonir”. Drive back to Yerevan.

DAY 8 - DEPARTURE
Breakfast at the hotel. Free morning before departure. Transfer to the airport. Departure home. 

Dates & Inclusions

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