Armenia’s Food & Wines
Armenia has a long history of wine and grape cultivation. In 2011, a complete winery was found in the region of Areni that dates back over 6,000 years, making it the oldest winery ever discovered. Since ancient times, Armenia has been famous for keeping its original wine making traditions to this day.
Armenian wine has been mentioned in the works of such philosophers as Herodotus and Strabo. In 401-400 BC, when the Greek armies, led by Xenophon passed through the land of Nairi (one of the most ancient names of Armenia), in the Armenian houses they were treated with wine and beer which was kept in deep dugouts in special “karases”. Many archaeological excavations have found evidence of wine making going back even further.
The enigmatic ARENI NOIR is a native grape particular to the Yeghegnadzor region. Grown on original un-grafted roots, this grapevine has remained unchanged for centuries. The remoteness of the area, the absence of Phylloxera and the isolation from modern agriculture during the Soviet era, has retained practically intact the original genome of this ancient vine variety. Unique in its capacity to adapt perfectly to continental climates and extremely resistant to disease, the Areni Noir, during time, has developed a very thick skin which, while helping maintain the elegance and freshness of the grape, also protects it from the drastic day/night temperature variations present during the summer months at such high altitudes.
The flavors of Armenian dishes rely on the quality and freshness of the ingredients rather than on excessive use of spices. Fresh herbs are used extensively, both in the food and as accompaniments, but dried herbs are used in the winter, when fresh herbs are not available.
Other aspects of Armenian cuisine:
- Wheat is the primary grain and is found in a variety of forms, such as: whole wheat, shelled wheat, bulghur (parboiled cracked wheat), semolina, farina, and flour. Historically, rice was used mostly in areas close to Iran.
- Legumes are used liberally, especially chick peas, lentils, white beans, and kidney beans.
- Nuts are used both for texture and to add nutrition to Lenten dishes. Of primary usage are walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, but also hazelnuts, pistachios (in Cilicia), and nuts from regional trees.
- Fresh and dried fruit are used both as main ingredients and as sour agents. As main ingredients, the following fruit are used: apricots (fresh and dried), quince, melons, and others. As sour agents, the following fruits are used: sumac berries (in dried, powdered form), sour grapes, plums (either sour or dried), pomegranate, apricots, cherries (especially sour cherries), and lemons.
- In addition to grape leaves, cabbage leaves, chard, beet leaves, radish leaves, strawberry leaves, and fresh vegetable (eggplant, tomato, pepper, others) are also stuffed to prepare the famous Armenian “TOLMA”.
Throughout the tour you will have plenty of opportunities to sample fresh Armenian traditional dishes, wines, and brandy!
DAY 1: Arrive in Yerevan International Zvartnots Airport. Transfer to hotel and check in (early check in is charged a full day). Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2: After breakfast at the hotel, start your introductory tour of Armenia’s capital city Yerevan and visit its most attractive spots and major landmarks, as well as the Matenadaran – the depository of ancient manuscripts (UNESCO World Heritage Site). We shall break for lunch and continue to visit the famous Noy-Ararat cognac factory – the site, which can be considered as birthplace of Armenian brandy.
DAY 3: Full day sightseeing program to include a visit to Vagharshapat (25 km) – the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Return to the capital and visit the ARARAT cognac distillery, which is currently owned by French Pernod Ricard.
DAY 4: Our today’s excursion shall take us to Khor Virap (57 km from Yerevan) and Noravank (110 km from Yerevan) – both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sights. Our road will lie through the Ararat Valley – the main center of wine-growing in Armenia along the Great Silk Route (as well as ancient Wine Route. We are going to drive by the village of Areni famous for its unique grape “Areni” and visit two of the many wineries here (one before lunch on the way to and another one on our way back to the capital. Break for lunch at the local café or an optional open fire BBQ lunch in the grotto of Noravank and taste home-made wine here (at 10 USD extra to our lunch budget). Late evening return to hotel for brief rest before dinner.
DAY 5: Head to the North of the country to visit Hellenistic Pagan Temple in Garni and Gueghard monastic complex (45 km to the North of Yerevan) – UNESCO World Heritage Sights. Return to Yerevan and visit the History Museum of Armenia or enjoy free time before dinner (or optional Farewell Dinner with acoustic Folk performers at one of the local restaurants at US 15 pp extra ).
DAY 6: Transfer to the airport for final departure.
Note: Armenia is easily combined with either Georgia or Iran, just ask us for details! Day 6 can be a day to transfer to the border, or closer to the border, then cross the next day into either country, and then continue your tour. Also consider adding days to visit additional sights in Armenia.
Call for pricing or to customize this itinerary.
- Accommodations in dbl/twin bedded room in Yerevan at the Hotel Aviatrans 4**** or similar centrally located local hotel for 5 o/n (inclusive of early check in)
- Daily breakfast at the hotel of stay
- Transfers & excursions by private a/c vehicle as described above
- Professional English speaking guide for 4 days
- Entrance and parking fees to the sites listed in the program
- 0.5 L water daily in the vehicle on excursion days
- Coffee or tea served with each main meal
- 2 x visit to the cognac factory in Yerevan
- 1 x visit to Areni winery w/tasting
- Meals (depending on your meal plan – B&B, half board, or full board, lunches and dinners will be at local restaurants)
- Airfare, Travel insurance, Porters, Beverages other than above, Mini bar, laundry, Guide & driver tips if applicable, other personal expenses
- Optional Special Features