«The world needs to show something of its own, something interesting»
In our regular heading # 10_questions to a winemaker, the owner of the Voskevaz Winery David Hovhannisyan. About how to start selling Bulgarian wine in Russia, you can start producing Armenian wine in Armenia in our material!
1. About start
This, I think, is the compatibility of stars. It was necessary that I had precisely these brothers. It was necessary that everything worked out in my head. It was necessary that I went to live in Moscow, and then came here and stayed. It was all … directed by some kind of force.
In Russia, I was engaged in the wholesale of alcoholic beverages. And we sold an incredible amount of popular and tasteless products. Remember the wine «Monastery hut»? Wagon cars left …
In 1997, when I came to Armenia on a completely different matter, I was offered three wineries. And I decided in a couple of hours. I thought that if we can sell such an amount of Bulgarian low-quality products, then we will be able to produce and sell high-quality products.
And … the tale did not last long. Until August 1998. Then a default occurred and in the morning there was a call with the words: «Colonel Kudasov is a beggar, gentlemen». We have lost everything that could be. I had to sell two plants. Left only Voskevaz. Started working at this factory. It was necessary to survive after this blow in 1998. After that, we survived still 2008.
And today – this is already a completely different plant.
2. About the factory
There was nothing in Voskevaz. Three buildings. We saved one building. And it was a shame to even show two to people. It was just two square buildings. No architecture … there was nothing.
There was a reception center, which annually took up to three thousand tons of grapes. And he handed it over to the headquarters, which was located three kilometers from Voskevaz and was called Oshakan. These were parts of the Soviet Union Sherry. I only left Voskevaz from him.
We did not change the name. Because what else is needed if you have a combination of «Gold» and «Vaz», which means «Golden Vine»?
3. About business
I have a friend who was then the main winemaker with us. After I sold two factories, he and I began a separate topic of the production of high-quality wines. And when for the first time in 2005, wine worth 8,000 drams was put on the shelves of Yerevan stores (ed .: about 500 rubles), how to say …
It turned out that there is a place in Armenia for everyone. Both for normal and for crazy. We were on the list of those who dictated: «Good wine can and should be expensive». But for the population who bought vodka for 300 – 400 drams (about 20 rubles), it was crazy money.
4. About the first wines
The production process of several wines went simultaneously. That was in 1998. Interesting sensations when you start picking up your products, trying. Yes…. It’s all working together: wine, bottle, design, label development. After all, we did it all ourselves. We sat with the designer, decided how everything would be …
5. About winemaking
I myself have not been a winemaker. And what I did myself was for internal use. Not for sale. It was created in the family and for friends. Because it’s quite dangerous to enter the market with these products. Because there are a million nuances there that must be observed before displaying wine for all to see. If friends like it, they will say that «the wine is good», they will not like it and they will say that «a little sour», «not too strong». These are friends. You can withstand any criticism of them. And producing in large quantities is a responsibility.
We already have the third winemaker working, you can even say the fourth. The Armenian is my friend Garush, the Italian Renato Loz, the Russian Alexey Sapsay and the German Jean Paul Berger. Honestly, for the time being I was just lucky when choosing. Even taking risks, we got a pretty good effect. When they hired a person whom they did not know. Which did not have much experience, for example.
6. About beloved wine
There is a wine that has such a very native history. She is associated with the name of my mother. «Nuraz» wine is called. From the surname Nurasyan. And, firstly, it always turns out very good, and secondly, a lot of warmth in this wine. And this is not a subjective opinion, because I am not familiar with any of the jury members in an Italian or in a Spanish or European company. But they give silver medals to this wine. Or the bronze of Decanter. Or silver Catavinum, for example.
In Russia, all three lines are now presented and there is wine for any consumer. Of course, it’s worth trying «red» wines, which are produced in clay amphorae and moving already left or right in the assortment to make an idea of our wines.
7. About Karases
The hardest work is working with karases. But you touch some layer of your past. It is very difficult to convey the feeling when you work with karases that are more than a hundred years old … I have the youngest karas of 1910.
And they are the workers of these karases, we are preparing the wine in them. The oldest among them is 1897. But he is a little damaged. It will just be saved for the story.
Stainless steel appeared when it was necessary to prepare a huge amount of wine. In a stainless steel, it is easier to keep track of wine and fewer problems arise. Karas is a breathing item and this is our story. It’s more complicated, the percentage of problems is higher, but the result is worth it. The stainless steel that everyone loves so much right now, it’s just a container. She does not breathe.
The beginning of the «red» line was at the time of the winemaker Alexei Sapsay. I told him that we need to make wine in karas and see how they behave. The first wine we received was the first gold medal in Armenia from the Mundus Vini international exhibition. For wine, which was made from indigenous grapes, was fermented in Armenian karas, was aged in Armenian oak. The whole orientation was Armenian. Wine «Voskevaz Areni Nuar Karasi».
8. About grapes
Among the loved ones that we tried and got a positive result, this is definitely Voskhheat. Here, of course, there are no topics for further discussion of this variety. Since this is an ancient autochthon. He has such a huge potential that for a long time we will not understand how great this potential is. Areni is an incomparable variety. Kakhet is an excellent variety, Kangun … We also have Hakhtanak. It becomes popular because so many wines are obtained through blends with Hakhtanak. We made pure Hakhtanak in karas, I don’t remember, it seems like last year … And he got gold in Spain. So he also has a very high potential.
9. About wine
ABOUT! Wine has become a very expensive product for me. A product that gives you the opportunity to be amazingly nice … to fight our lives. We have chosen a topic that we want to show opportunities and interpretations of opportunities.
You go with your product into some kind of world where you cannot fight on equal terms. But you have to fight. And the war lies in your approach to obtaining this product. The way you imagine it. For instance. Everyone creates wine. How are you different from the rest? Why are you better than someone? Better than people who have only hereditary winemaking for 200-300 years ?! And suddenly you got into this world and want to say to everyone: «Do you know who you met?» You can only say one word with your product. Which in the future will sound so loud that my son or grandson, they can already make up the whole sentence from these words …
10. About future
Armenia cannot produce billions of bottles of some strange wines. Armenian winemaking should have its own chip, something that you will differ in the market. My opinion is that our main difference should be grape varieties. I do not know in the world more territories where you can find, for example, the same varieties of Voskehat, Kakhet or Areni. But everywhere you can find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Malbec. You should be different from the rest and this is it – grades. Here, phylloxero-resistant stocks begin to plant. They begin to base their business on them, and I don’t think that is right. I do not think that a big surge in winemaking can be achieved using European grape varieties. We can turn into some kind of standard country in which standard wines will be produced. No different, not have their own worthy varieties, which, as we grow on our own roots. After all, the whole of Europe was destroyed more than 100 years ago by this phylloxera. The world needs to show something of its own, something interesting.