“Wine Cubes” will be popping up on Armenian vineyards—and building up the country’s enotourism industry, the Smithsonian magazine said in an article about a new initiative that seeks to restore the link between the grape grower and the consumers.
"Imagine sitting in a 6,100-year-old mountain vineyard in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor province, sipping a glass of red wine with subtle hints of juniper. Nearby is a plate of cheese made from the milk of a bezoar goat, drizzled with local honey and paired with perfectly ripe apricots, while the man beside your table—the one who’s pouring himself a glass of wine to join you—is both the vintner and the farmer responsible for this incredible spread. For four generations, his family has been tending this vineyard in Armenia’s southeastern corner, one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world," the article begins.
Creating experiences like this is the aim of Farm-to-Bottle, a joint crowdfunding project between Semina Consulting (a viticulture consulting firm devoted to promoting and developing the country’s wine region - Vayots Dzor) and the philanthropic non-profit ONEArmenia, which hopes to create a new wave of local enotourism in southeastern Armenia and empower small family farmers to thrive there.
A large portion of the campaign’s $61,515 in fundraising will go toward building “WineCubes,” compact wine-tasting rooms that can be placed right in the vineyards. More intimate than a typical tasting room, the cubes are intended for grape farmers who don’t yet have their own customer-friendly wineries, providing them the opportunity to interact with their consumers directly. Each one will feature an open-air patio lined with bench-style tables, a tasting bar with stool seating and a restroom—all perched on a concrete platform with timber-clad walls.
The project organizers hope these new facilities will accelerate interest in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor region, which has already been experiencing a “wine renaissance” the last several years, stimulated by the excavation of the world’s oldest winery—the Areni-1 Cave. This archaeological site, which is open to private tours “reestablished Armenia as one of the birthplaces of viticulture,” says Keushguerian, “which in turn increased tourism.” Today, the province is home to more than a dozen wine producers and hundreds of farmers maintaining small vineyard plots. While there is no winery currently at the Areni-1 Cave, Armenia’s Ministry of Culture recently announced plans to rent out the site and several surrounding caves as tourism venues—though exactly what plans lie ahead for these sites are still under review.
Also, Farm-to-Bottle hopes to introduce these farmers to new technologies, like small tanks, temperature control and up-to-date equipment.
The firm expects that travelers will be able to visit Armenia’s first WineCubes and purchase inexpensive ($5-7) bottles of wine straight from the vineyards of Armenia’s Vayots Dzor as early as June 2018.