After an introduction by Maria Ushakova, David Oganesyan, the founder of the present day Voskevaz Winery’ very kindly contributed some wonderful, rich bottles of his Armenian wine to the ‘Moscow expat Life’ 5th Anniversary Party, and to the ELE end of year party. MeL caught up with David to find out some more about Voskevaz wine.
David explained that his winery in Armenia has existed since 1932, and Voskevaz was already a firmly established brand before he took it over in 1997. The main problem he has faced was how to overcome the Soviet stereotype that Armenia can only produce cognac. Wine was from Georgia and cognac from Armenia. “Since 2009 we have been working with a Russian distributer to and try to convince Russians that Armenian wine not only exists, but is actually pretty good. With their help, we are now able to distribute our wines at most large Russian retail chains.” Voskevaz is not the only Armenian wine on sale in Russia, however it is one of the most well-known. Voskevaz’s new red dry wine ‘Areni Noir’ was awarded a gold medal at ‘Mundus Vini 18th Grand International Wine Award’ in 2016. This is the first time in Armenian winemaking history, when a wine, made from an Armenian grape variety, has won this prestigious award.
Voskevaz’s wine, David said, is “one hundred percent created from local Armenian grapevines. We only use Armenian Karases (Armenian clay jars) for fermentation, and local oak for ageing. We know what we are doing; we have been making wine in Armenia for thousands of years; about 6,000. Armenia is very suited geographically and climatically for wine production. The water is just right and so are the amount of sunshine hours. The vines that grow at a relatively high altitude produce a slightly different effect. We are not trying to produce a huge amount of wine, rather we want to produce wine of excellent quality.”
Earlier, semi-sweet wines ‘Portvein’ were popular, because Armenia’s market was Russia. David explained: “Now the wine drinking culture in Russia is beginning to change, and people are beginning to understand that good wine actually is dry. Now, we sell about the same amount of dry and sweet wine, and we know that in the future, we will be selling more dry than even semi-dry wine. We are in the front line of telling the world that Armenian wines exist, we are engaged in marketing quite intensively or rather our distributors are, and all of this is a good thing because we really do have something that is worth trying. I think it is going to take about 5 years to achieve world-wide popularity.” In fact, Armenians are quietly, humbly doing great business. They seem to prefer to be slightly off-radar. In passing, David mentioned that his wines are already being exported to Russia, Belgium, Holland, Italy, China, America, and The Baltic Republics.