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Wine Story: Armenian winery Voskevaz - life full of passions, risks

21:23, May 12

Voskevaz is not only a winery brand, it is a story intertwined with family ties and passion for creating authentic Armenian wines. Purchased and founded in 1997 by David Hovhannisyan, it has become an integral part of the Armenian cultural and winemaking identity.

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Mary, chief marketing director and member of the Oganesyan family, who saw with her own eyes the revival of the winery and participated in its becoming one of the largest, spoke about how the dream turned into a bright goal, and the wines into works of art that will be talked about all over the world. and famous wineries of Armenia.

History of foundation and difficulties on the way to realizing a dream

Voskevaz winery is the oldest in Armenia. It was founded back in 1932 and produced mainly wines from white grape varieties, which were most popular during the Soviet era. However, the history of this winery is not without difficulties. At that time, it was not profitable for the government to support such a large winery, and it began to empty, only its walls reminding of its greatness of the past. But thanks to our family, this historical winery came to life again, and today we continue its glorious tradition, offering our real Armenian wines to the world.

The period when the winery was launched is etched in the memory of each of us. Even when I was young, I remember how the desolation and decay of this place was imprinted in my memory. Old tanks and wine fermentation tanks are all that remain from past glory. But today, under the Voskevaz Winery brand, a completely new story is being revived here. Of what was built almost a hundred years ago, only one building has survived—an ancient cellar, which we proudly use to this day. As soon as you cross its threshold, it is as if you are immersed in the atmosphere of the past.

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The walls of this cellar seem to be overflowing with history, frozen in time for an entire century, in an era when the music of winemaking sounded here and real masterpieces of winemaking art were born.

Voskevaz is not just a project, it is a life full of passions and risks that we decided to take for the benefit of our dreams. We invested everything in this: our work, energy, health and finances, seeing only vague outlines of possibilities in the future. Our path to a clear plan and desired wine production was full of challenges, but every effort was worth it.

Brand concept: From history to revival, harmony

The emphasis was placed on the authenticity of Armenian wine. We have actively engaged with local and international consumers to promote the uniqueness and potential of our local grape varieties. Our ideals and cultural roots are rooted in the depths of Armenian history, which means that every step in the winemaking process is not only a technical act, but also a tribute to the history and traditions of our ancestors. We are committed to using only local grape varieties and are convinced that this is the only way to convey the unique notes and shades that shape the taste of our wine.

When we finally saw that our efforts were not in vain and wine production was going well, we decided to go even further and take a risk with a new project: wine tourism. Our brother, Gagik Hovhannisyan, a famous artist, became the architect of this idea. Over time, he sent us letters from Los Angeles with drawings in which he embodied his vision for the winery and the future of wine tourism. Then we brought in our younger brother, Armen, a talented jeweler and creator of the metal parts that decorate the winery’s territory. He is also responsible for lighting the complex, creating an atmosphere that combines beauty and functionality. Now their hands have carved symbols on the frescoes that adorn the walls, reminding us of our path and dreams, and created those small details that catch the eye.

The Phoenix is our main emblem, which carries the symbolism of revival, which is a complete reflection of our winemaking history: we gave Voskevaz new life, breathed into it the spirit of revival. Our philosophy, expressed in the Yin-Yang symbol, teaches us to strive for balance and harmony—this is the environment where our ideas and work receive the most favorable conditions for implementation.

Risks and temptations of winemaking path

The path of a winemaker is always inextricably linked with risk, but for us this has always been a challenge, not an exception. Today we can proudly say that in the Aragatsotn region of Armenia stands our small medieval wine town, which has become a symbol of our work and dedication to the art of winemaking.

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Winemaking is an art that requires not only knowledge and experience, but also sincere love for what you do. If your business is purely commercial, you may be successful, but it won't be enough to become a big name in the wine scene. Winemaking is woven from romanticism, it requires attention, care, and the ability to feel and understand what you are doing and how to do it correctly.

A winemaker must be aware of the latest trends and events in the world of winemaking. The audience's annually changing tastes and trends should not frighten him, but, on the contrary, stimulate him to develop and search for new ideas. Wine may seem like a complex and capricious drink to a person unfamiliar with winemaking, so the winemaker must be able to correctly and clearly present his product, making it understandable and appealing to a wide audience.

The embodiment of Armenian authenticity in wine

At the moment, the winery offers 21 types of wine, which we have roughly divided into categories by age: from “mature” to “young.” Our collection includes a variety of autochthonous varieties, reflecting different terroirs and characteristics: from Vayots Dzor to Aragatsotn, Armavir, the Ararat Valley, from Areni and Voskehat to Haghtanak and Muscat.

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Initially we had some uncertainty about the Areni variety as it was new to us and seemed demanding. But thanks to our research approach, we were able to unlock its potential. We are also proud of our wines from the Karas series, produced using the ancient method of aging in karas. Karas, used in Armenia for 6,000 years ago, have become our passion and dream, and we are proud to reintroduce their use in our winemaking. Our collection of carp includes the oldest specimens over 100 years old, and some of them are already over 140 years old.

Difficulties in the perception of Armenian wines in Armenia and abroad

Our country can be proud of its ancient history of winemaking because the first wine in the world was produced here. However, outside its borders this fact remains little known, especially after Armenia left the Soviet Union. Many people associate Armenia exclusively with brandy, ignoring its wine traditions. Our task is to reveal our winemaking heritage to the world, to show that wines from Armenia deserve recognition and attention not only because of their history, but also because of their unique quality and taste.

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Indeed, over the past few years we have been able to achieve significant success in promoting our wine culture. However, in order to regain even a small part of the greatness and recognition that our wines had in the history of a thousand years ago, we will have to continue to work long and hard. This requires not only high-quality production, but also active promotion at the international level, attracting the attention of wine critics, the formation of new markets, and the formation of the image of Armenian wine as a symbol of quality and history. This is a difficult but important path that we are ready to take for the sake of preserving and promoting our winemaking heritage.

Evolution of the audience: Shifting perspectives, universality of attraction

Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable change in the age group of wine consumers. If previously the main emphasis was on a more mature audience, now wine has become appealing to young people. This trend is encouraging as it indicates a growing interest in wine across different age groups.

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Particularly pleasing is the shift in perspective and the debunking of the myth of wine as a “women’s drink” among Armenian consumers. Now the audience is becoming more diverse and attracting new faces regardless of age and gender. This indicates that wine is becoming a truly universal drink that finds its fans in various sociocultural groups.

The rise of Voskevaz: Triumph on world wine scene

Voskevaz wines have won several significant achievements and recognitions in recent years. For example, they have been awarded gold medals at international Great Gold competitions, which confirms the high quality of their products. In addition, our wines were included in the prestigious Decanter Top 100 wines of the world list, which is an outstanding achievement and recognition in the world winemaking arena.

They also have received considerable attention and recognition from the public. Voskevaz products are represented in Russia and 17 European countries. Recently, the United States also has begun to show interest in Armenian wines, and Voskevaz wines can already be found on store shelves in some US states.

What makes Voskevaz pleasing for wine lovers this year

We always monitor what is trending among our consumers, researching their needs and interests. Loving experiments, our team is constantly looking for new technologies and approaches to winemaking. We recently introduced a new product, the Voskevaz Kahani Reserve wine, which is produced using the ancient “kahani” technology and aged in Caucasian oak. This wine reflects our constant commitment to innovation and quality.

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Also, we are going to replenish the line of fruit wines with pomegranate wine aged in Caucasian oak—more elegant, restrained, and with a more complex structure, unlike its young “brother,” but this should be very tasty and pleasant news for the market and for our consumers. In general, pomegranate wine is very affordable, light, pleasant, it is very popular abroad, and very often tourists, when trying it at a winery, are surprised and left pleasantly impressed.

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We are confident in the growing potential of Armenia as a winemaking country. It will have a long way to go before it acquires a global calling and attracts people around the world, but we have the potential and all the necessary tools given to us by nature to make it happen. And although our list of autochthonous grape varieties is small, the taste of the wines will not be repeated, even if it is a hundred bottles of Areni from a hundred different producers. Like a person's character, wines have their own recognizable characteristics, but at the same time, each of them is unique and different from the others. The signature of this, or that winemaker is clearly visible in his creations, marking it with recognizable but originality.

Liana Aghajanyan

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