STORY OF ZORAH
A wonderful journey into the world of wine which began many years ago when Zorik visited Armenia for the very first time. He returned powerfully impressed by the beauty and spirit of his ancient homeland. As he began to spend more time there, travel among its people and uncover its secrets and traditions, he came to realize that Armenia had a deep rooted wine culture which seemed to have all but disappeared after years of Soviet rule.
A marvelous idea began to take shape and never one to follow tradition, Zorik changed his mind about buying a vineyard in Tuscany in favour of returning to his ancestral roots in Armenia. He decided to restore traditional vinicultural values with a modern approach and create truly profound wines which would speak of this magical place. It took a dream, time, determination and a team of motivated professionals to make it all come together and after almost ten years of intense work the winery produced its first vintage.
With boundless enthusiasm and unshakable faith Zorik continues to step beyond the dream and take the adventure further. His powerful vision, of creating unique wines of undiluted quality, has become an integral part of the wineries philosophy and with each new chapter of its story Zorah wishes to expose Armenia’s potential in creating wines which rival the best in the world.
To create a wine is to initiate encounters, create synergies, mix and blend disciplines, traditions and cultures. Zorah represents years of enriching work between inspired professionals whose powerful vision and curiosity has propelled them ever forward in testing new boundaries in an effort to create something new, something different and something unique.
ZORIK GHARIBIAN – Founder
Zorik Gharibian, an Armenian living in Italy, whose love for travel has provided him with inspiration since childhood, built Zorah on values and deep convictions which rest on a foundation of tradition, innovation and excellence. He was educated at the Moorat Raphael school of Venice and earned his degree in business studies at the University of Milan. After many years in a successful career in the world of fashion, he was ready to invest his heart and soul in his real passion: wine. Always ready for a challenge, Zorik decided to take the road less travelled and plant his vineyards in Armenia, in the land of his forefathers and create unique wines which would reflect his own ethos: contemporary yet with profound traditional roots.
ALBERTO ANTONINI – Winemaker
Alberto Antonini graduated in Agricultural Science from the University of Florence with a thesis on vines in virtual extinction in Tuscany. He then went on to study oenology at the Université de Bordeaux and Davis in California. He was senior winemaker at Antinori and Frescobaldi in Tuscany, and at Robert Mondavi, Au Bon Climat and Qupé in California. In 1996 he and partner Attilio Pagli founded the hugely influential consulting agency Gruppo Matura. Antonini’s wine making philosophy is focused on combining innovation with tradition to make high end wines with a strong sense of place. Today Alberto consults in many countries around the world: Italy, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, California, Canada, Portugal, South Africa, Australia and Armenia.
STEFANO BARTOLOMEI – Agronomist /Viticulturist
Stefano Bartolomei earned his degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Pisa with a thesis on the maturation of grapes. He continued with a specialization in Integrated and Organic Agriculture and proceeded at the University of Montpellier in France with further specialized course work in Viticulture. From 2001 to 2006 he worked with Federico Curtaz from whom he learned the importance of meticulous attention to detail and consideration of every single aspect of the agronomical realm.
Stefano has worked on many important projects in the Italian winemaking landscape especially in the province of Livorno and in the Tuscan Maremma, particularly in Bolgheri, as well as lecturing on viticulture in Montalcino. He has been closely linked with Zorah from the very beginning and has become intimately familiar with all aspects and unique style of the vineyard.
ARMENIA & WINE
One of the world’s oldest civilizations, blessed with endless natural and historical treasures, Armenia’s territory lies in the southern Trans Caucasus in the highlands surrounding biblical Mount Ararat.
Armenia is considered one of the most ancient cradles of grape growing and wine making. The Bible states “Noah descended from Mount Ararat; he planted the first vine and made wine from it.” Vine is in fact, an indigenous plant in the valleys of Armenia. The wild vine Vitis vinifera silvestris (ancestor of the cultivated vinifera vine species) was already established in this region over a million years ago and historically grapes have always been an important crop in Armenia.
The Urartian kings of eighth century BC referred to Armenia as ‘the land of the vineyards’ while, Greek scholars Herodotus, Xenophon and Strabo described the river trade on the Tigris by Armenian merchants who exported their excellent wines downstream to the Assyrians and beyond. Armenian wine making traditions can also be traced back to ancient illuminated manuscripts. In 301 AD Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity and during this period wine became an important part of different religious rituals.
During excavations of ‘Karmir Blur’ (Red Hill), in the vicinity of Armenia’s capital Yerevan, more than 400 ancient wine barrels were found. This discovery proved that wine making here was already a well-developed industry over 3000 years ago. Most impressive of all, however, was the discovery of the world’s oldest winery, dating back 6100 years. It was found during excavations of Areni-1 cave, in the Yeghegnadzor region of Armenia. This is considered to be the world’s oldest complete wine production facility ever discovered and the first historical evidence of wine making on an industrial scale ever found.
Armenia, therefore, with its truly ancient wine history, can confidently take its place on the world wine map as the probable cradle of vine and wine.