by Marissa Bazikian
While many Armenians can list noteworthy facts about Armenian history and culture, majority won’t be confident enough to say that Armenia is one of the first wine producing countries in the world.
In 2007, archeologists found the oldest winery cave in Areni, which is said to date back over 6,000 years. Armenians have continued to produce wine over the years, particularly in the regions of Armavir, Ararat, Vayots Dzor, and Hadrut (NKR); moreover, during the Soviet Union, Armenia’s grapes were the source of sherry wine and brandy. The fall of the Soviet Union as a result led to the collapse of Armenia’s economy which included the decline of the wine making industry.
Now, it seems that more and more wineries in Armenia are starting up and beginning to produce their own unique blends while taking advantage of Armenia’s rich history in wine making. One of those wineries is Nouart Aznuni, which started in 2004 by winemaker Melson Sargsyan.
Nouart Aznuni’s wine is produced in Artsakh and is sold only nationally. Unlike other commercial wines produced in Armenia, it is 100% organic. The brand’s manager, Mikayel Khachatryan stated, “Nouart Aznuni maintains its organic nature throughout the whole winemaking process, including grape growing and wine production. No fertilizers are used in the grape growing process and no preservatives such as sulfites, are added to the production process.”
The grapes are grown Artsakh in Hadrut and Martuni regions and the grape varieties used for the wines are khndoghni and rkatsitelli, which are only grown in Artsakh. Khachatryan also noted that Artsakhian wines are unique due to Artsakh’s climate and their grape types containing a high percentage of sugar.
Nouart’s current products are one type of classic wine made with only khndoghni grapes and they will soon release a new blend and limited reserves containing khndoghi and rkatsitelli grapes, which will be sold with a different label but same logo and name.
When asked about the inspiration for the unique name, Khachatryan explained that Nouart Aznuni is named after a matron of one of the noble families of Khachen Princedon, a medieval Armenian principality on the territory of historical Artsakh, and that he found a paragraph about her in his great grandmother’s memoirs. Nouart Aznuni ran their family winery, which is traditionally a role granted to man, and she symbolizes the important role that women played in the history of the Armenian nation in culture, development, and the struggle for independence.
This story interested us from the very start, and we knew we wanted to partner with them. In the end, Nouart Aznuni sponsored our opening night for our 6th exhibit “Lips of Pride”, on April 8. This exhibition focuses on women’s sexuality and societal perceptions of shame in Armenia, and showcases the work of 25 women artists – what better way to kick it off than sipping on some Nouart Aznuni?