You’d probably struggle to find a bottle of Armenian wine in your local supermarket, yet the region of Vayots Dzor claims to be home to the oldest winery in the world, in operation some 6,100 years ago.
The Areni Winery opened in 1994 as a family enterprise. Since then, the winery’s production volume has increased significantly, and today the winery produces over 250,000 bottles per year. A young girl with excellent English led us down into a cellar full of bottles and huge barrels and talked us through various grape varieties and makers of wine (the grape variety Garan Dmak means “fat tail” in Armenian and the grape gets its name from the fact that it resembles a lamb’s tail).
Chat over, we went back upstairs and tasted a Meyron white and rose both from 2021, and Mamur dry red. Lavash, Armenian thin traditional bread, was provided along with small cubes of cheese.
Fruit wines are also made and the most popular are apricot, Armenia’s national fruit, and pomegranate. The latter tasted to us like a delicious port, and we’d loved to have brought some home.
Tours of the factory can be made and there is a restaurant on site as well as a small craft shop selling souvenirs and handmade gifts as well as a selection of wines.