31 Jul Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Ginifest Armenian Wine Festival
In late 2020, I was first introduced to Armenian wines. The oldest wine producing wine region in the world, I have been impressed over and over with the wines I have tasted. This weekend, I had the pleasure to meet some of the producers in person at Ginifest Armenian Wine Festival, the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Ginifest was created in 2017 and after skipping 2020, 2021 marks the 3rd annual Ginifest. Ginifest is a great event to spread the word about Armenian wines as these are wines that everyone should know!
This year, there were 28 wineries at Ginifest which took place at Castaway in Burbank. There were Armenian winemakers who are making wine in California but all of the wineries in Armenia were also represented. I have had the pleasure to taste many of these wines but this was the first time meeting the producers and importers in person.
Storica Wines, who represent a portfolio of Armenian wines, were pouring Keush Origins, the first traditional method sparkling wine crafted from Armenian Indigenous varieties Voskehat and Khatouni. They were also pouring the Zulal Areni, a delicious red wine that I have fallen in love with. And, they had the new Shofer rosé made from Areni grapes and was perfectly refreshing. To learn more or purchase these wines, visit Storica Wines.
Emiliya Baghdassarian was pouring the 2018 vintage of Apris Wines, the first vintage of the winery. Her grandparents were born in Artsakh and her father Garen Bagdasarian partnered with friend Bagdasar Gulian to create Apris Wine. The white wine was made from indigenous white grape Gratiesti which has a beautiful floral and citrus nose and is fresh on the palate. The red and rosé were made from the Sireni grape.
Gratiesti and Sireni are both indigenous to the region of Artsakh, the second-largest viticultural region in Armenia prior to the recent conflict, where Apris was located. Tragically, Artsakh is no longer part of Armenia and Apris has lost their vineyard, including both the 2019 and 2020 vintages. Fortunately the family has vineyards in Armenia as well and will be replanting and producing more wine in the future. In the meantime, if you want to try Apris wine and support the winery, visit Apris Wine to learn more.
Viken Yacoubian, a psychology professor at Woodbury University in Los Angeles, was pouring his Yacoubian Hobbs wines. Yacoubian Hobbs is a partnership with Paul Hobbs and they established their winey in Vayots Dzor in 2008. I loved the beautiful 2017 white wine, a blend of 80 percent Voskehat, 10 percent Khatuni, 5 percent Qrdi and 5 percent Garan Demak with notes of citrus, pear, and white flowers and acidity and minerality on the palate. And the 2016 Areni was gorgeous with red fruit and dried flower aromas, bright acidity, and smooth tannins. For more information or to purchase these wines, visit Yacoubian Hobbs.
Stepan Baghdassarian, owner of Wines of Armenia, has the largest collection of Armenian Wines in the USA. He represents Voskeni, Old Bridge, Zulal, Takri, Zorah, Kataro, NOA, Malahi, Nare, Hin Areni, TUS, Rikars, Aran, and more, and was pouring many of the wines. If you want to try a variety of Armenian producers, visit WinesofArmenia.com.
In addition to the wines, Ginifest included Armenian spirits, as well as Armenian cheeses and Armenian arts and crafts. I really enjoyed delving in a bit more to Armenian wine and meeting the wonderful people producing and promoting this historical region. I have already put next year’s Ginifest on my calendar and you should too! The 4th Annual Ginifest Armenian Wine and Spirits Festival will take place May 22, 2022.