Two-day wine tour by car

This tour combines visits to both commercial wine factories and home facilities, where the households are making wine in ways that have not changed for hundreds of years. You can taste local wine all year round. However, if you wish to participate in the wine making process, you better visit during the harvest season, between mid-September and early November. Many seasonal activities are also available.
Calendar of activities:
* March and April – pruning and fixing of dry branches.
* May – cultivation and fixing of green branches.
* June, July, August – irrigation, weed control, treatment and fertilization.
* Early September - harvesting and eating different varieties of grapes.
* Late September, October, early November – harvesting the “Areni” variety of grapes, which is the most famous
Homemade wine. Depending on the temperature and percentage of sugar, within a few days you can make young wine. You should, however, be careful with such young wine. As the fermentation process is ongoing, the wine will possess natural carbonation. Similar to carbonated soft drinks, if you’re not careful when opening you will receive a shower spray of fizzy wine! For 2-3 days, take a tour, make some wine, and then venture further south to Karabakh (Artsakh) or Meghri. When you come back, taste the wine you made!

DAY 1
Perhaps, the best introduction to Vayots Dzor wines will begin by visiting the “Areni”Wine Factory, where you may taste a variety of 14 grape and fruit wines.
* Contact: Rafik Simonyan
* Phone: +374 (0) 93 42 44 06
Visit the factory’s grape fields near Areni. Your local guide will help you find the fields. Also, if weather permits, on the way back the local guide can show you the location of “Kosajur” – a mineral water spring (bubbling water), where you can swim in the pool (entrance – 200 dram/person). During the day, most locals are out working in the fields, but in the evening you will oft en meet them nearby making khorovats (Armenian BBQ).
* Just show up and enter. No contact person.
After the “Areni” factory it’s worth it to visit with some local residents, where you can observe, and depending on the season also participate, in the process of wine making. Here are available contacts in Areni:
* Rafik Davtyan, +374 (0) 94 42 44 16.
* Yeghia Grigoryan, +374 (0) 93 63 58 47
* Hayk Voskanyan, +374 (0) 93 88 13 64. Wine Cellar on the main highway (v. Areni).
* Vardan Simonyan, +374 (0) 93 63 05 10. Wine Cellar on the main highway (v. Areni).
* Svetlana Khachatryan, +374 (0) 93 43 35 26
The contacts above have home-based, small-scale wine making operations. Tour operators should contact them directly to make arrangements to visit. Single tourists should contact a local guide to help arrange their visit as Armenian and Russian are the only languages spoken.
These contacts will help you make your own wine. With pre-arrangement, they will keep your wine for several days until you return. Continue your visit to the south of Armenia, Karabakh (Artsakh), Meghri. When you return to Yerevan, stop back in Areni to pick up your wine. If you like, and for a small fee, they will keep your wine for years until you return again.
Optional: visit the Areni-1 (Bird’s) Cave. As the excavation is still in process, entering the cave is not always possible. However, you may ask the local guide for possible pre-arrangement. You do have the option to view the outer section of the cave, where the old-est leather shoe was found some years ago.
Lunch with a local B&B (with pre-arrangement) or in a restaurant along the Arpa River. Many options are listed in the guide map.
Drive to Aghavnadzor village. Main contact – Norayr Hakhverdyan, +374 (0)77 87 98 59.
Visit Norayr’s Old Style Armenian House and “Maran” or winemaking facility. Taste his dry and semi-sweet wines pared with cheese. Visit his fields. Picnic lunch in the fields is possible with pre-arrangement.
Overnight at a B&B in Areni or Yeghegnadzor. Many options are listed in the guide map.

DAY 2
Visit the grape fields near the Gladzor and Vernashen villages to see the different ways of grape cultivation in mound gardens /թմբային այգի/ [tm’bay’eena’gee].
* Contact: Norik Mkrtchyan
* Phone: (home) +374 (0) 281 23253 (mobile) +374 (0) 93 39 22 77
* Email: norgr@mail.ru
* Language: Armenian
Visit Barrel factory - “Izoton” wood factory in Yeghegnadzor. Large and small, 400-700 liter, wine barrels are produced here for the local wine industry. Tour the small production facility. Small barrel souvenirs are available.
* Contact: Hayk Isakhanyan
* Phone: +374 (0) 91 20 13 49
* Address: Yeghegnadzor, Mikoyan St. #8
Visit to willow bottle pack maker’s house. Artur Petrosyan produces interesting wine bottle sheaths from local willows and river cane materials. These unique products are a great addition to any Armenian handicraft s souvenir collection.
* Contact: Artur Petrosyan
* Phone: +374 (0) 94 38 73 13
* Address: Yeghegnadzor, Khanjyan St. #11
Lunch in Yeghegnadzor at Arman Hakhverdyan’s Wine House. Arman has converted the front of his home into a wine production and tasting hall complete with dining facilities. At his vineyard located near his home, Arman uses organic fertilizers and bio-ecological production standards. Before crushing the grapes, he hand-sorts each bunch to produce unique blends. Arman’s Wine House is also a gallery for local artists and painters who are interested in the nature of Vayots Dzor.
* Contact: Arman Hakhverdyan
* Phone: +374 (0) 98 05 06 35
* Address: Yeghegnadzor, Tumanyan St. #3
If you are planning to spend a second night in Vayots Dzor, look at the Areni and/or Yeghegnadzor B&B sections.

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