WE: A guide to Armenia, one of the world’s oldest wine regions

WE: A guide to Armenia, one of the world’s oldest wine regions

PanARMENIAN.Net - Through triumphs and tumult, Armenia's wine industry is again on the rebound, The Wine Enthusiast says in a fresh article about the country's vinous renaissance: Armenia's wine history is ancient.

Patrick McGovern, scientific director of biomolecular archaeology project for cuisine, fermented beverages and health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum

While exact details of ancient winemaking remain romantically murky, ancient texts authenticated by historians offer a glimpse of Armenia’s ancestral glory.

In the book "Ancient Wine", Patrick McGovern, scientific director of biomolecular archaeology project for cuisine, fermented beverages and health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, details how 8th century B.C. Urartian monarchs, an Iron Age kingdom that ruled the Armenian Highlands, dubbed Armenia “the land of the vineyards.” The Assyrians and Greeks also referenced Armenian wine in various texts.

The progression of Armenian wine ended when the Soviet Red Army invaded in 1920. Two years later, the country was merged into the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. In 1936, it became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, or Soviet Armenia.

In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia regained its sovereignty. Young Armenians and those with investment money began to embrace the region’s ancient techniques and storied wine culture. In other words, Armenia has the distinction of being the youngest oldest wine industry in the world.

So far, researchers have catalogued 400 indigenous varieties from a cache of wild vines cultivated by early Armenians.

There are four main wine regions. The best known is the south-central region of Vayots Dzor, a long, narrow plateau which stands out for its highest elevation vineyards, some which reach almost 6,000 feet above sea level. “To put things in perspective, high elevation in continental Spain and Northern Italy is maybe 2,300 to 2,900 feet,” says Poldoian.

Aragatsotn sits at slightly lower elevation. Other regions to note include Ararat, located on a sunny plateau; Armavir, a mountainous area in the southwest; and Artsakh, on the border with Azerbaijan.

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