Apart from the world’s oldest shoe and skirt, Armenia is also home to the oldest winery. In the Areni-1 cave a grape press, fermenting vats, and clay storage vessels were found, all over 6000 years old. The cave was uncovered in 2007, proving that wine was probably first made in Western Asia (as well as in the Middle East). This only makes sense since that region of the world was where man first formed agrarian communities. It is even believed (this is just a theory) that men didn’t switch to an agrarian lifestyle for food security but rather to have access to a constant supply of alcohol.
Whether prehistoric Armenians were making wine to have a good time or for religious and sacrificial purposes -as some archeological evidence points out- it has been wine country for centuries. Armenian wine was praised during the Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. Afterward, however, during the czarist era, Armenian grapes were used for brandy instead of wine and for sherry during the Soviet days. The Armenian winemaking days were over, and many traditions were lost.
Armenia is making a comeback, however. Saveur reports about Californian winemaker Paul Hobbs being intrigued by the Areni-1 cave and setting up shop in 2008. Drawn by the romantic notion of the birthplace of wine, he and two American brothers from Armenian origin started making Armenian wine in the vicinity of the famous cave. Although they started in 2008, their first wine will only be ready for consumption next year. You can read more about it here.
The country is rediscovering its past and rekindling a wine tradition that was broken. No one knows what Armenian wine is supposed to taste like which leaves lots of room for experimentation and exploration. So if you happen to come across Armenian wine in the near future, be sure to try it.