Tierras de Armenia is the country’s largest privately-owned vineyard, concentrating on European varieties grown in a hot mountainous terroir with volcanic soils, and managed by a team of star oenologists. Due to that combination, the Tierras de Armenia team and their Karas wine brand have of late become a symbol of new-wave national winemaking.
The company’s vineyards are located in the Ararat Valley in western Armenia, in the Armavir region. The elevation ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 metres above sea level. Rocky volcanic soils prevail.
The total area of the vineyards is 450 hectares, including 350 hectares of fruit-bearing vines. Automatically-controlled trickle irrigation has been installed throughout the vineyards. Special hail-protection nets are used for the protection of the vines from hailstorms.
The development of the project began in 2003, and the year 2010 marked the first commercial vintage for the company. International grape varieties prevail: whites Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, and Aligoté; and reds Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Tannat, Montepulciano, and Petit Verdot. The most widely planted indigenous variety is the white Kangun. In 2015, the yield amounted to 4,000 tons, of which 900 tons were processed in situ.
The winery is built in modern pragmatic style. It is developing in line with the growth of demand for the Karas wines. When three new cellars are built next to the existing one in near future, Tierras de Armenia will be capable of processing up to 2,500 tons of grapes a year. Now the winery is equipped with Bucher Vaslin pneumatic presses, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and other up-to-date winemaking equipment. The company’s wine cask depot consists of 250 barriques of French and Karabakh (Caucasian) oak. The ultimate aim of the project is to reach production of 1 million bottles a year.
The owner of Tierras de Armenia is Eduardo Eurnikian, an Argentinean-Armenian businessman. The influential Bordeaux-based ‘flying winemaker’ Michel Rolland is the winemaking consultant for the project, in charge of making the Karas blends. Mikael Laizet, a consultant oenologist from Rolland’s team, visits the winery three to four times a year to control the key stages of the winemaking cycle. Gabriel Rogel, a young oenologist from Mendoza, works as the resident winemaker. Vakhe Keushgeryan consulted in the launch of the project, and he continues to promote Tierras de Armenia’s wines.
The project is developing quite correctly from both oenological and economic viewpoints. In near future, the company can increase their production volumes (the vineyard size allows it), and consumers would most likely accept these wines as a quite affordable product crafted by a French winemaking guru. The current line of still wines is complemented by a fresh and clean sparkling wine made in the Charmat method.