Winé – Syrian Armenian and Women Touches in Winemaking. Hagop Kazanjian

The Wine Incubation Project is a vivid example of successful cooperation between two programmes operating in the field of sustainable economic development and employment promotion – Economic and Social Participation of Vulnerable Displaced and Local Populations in the South Caucasus (EPIC) and Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training in the South Caucasus (PSD TVET). The programmes are implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Thus, the aim of the Wine Incubation Project is to create new opportunities for persons displaced from Syria and local women in the wine sector․ As a result of the project, 6 new Syrian Armenian and female winemakers have entered the local wine market. Below is the story of Hakob Kazanjian.

Hagop Kazanjian who moved to Armenia from Syria in 2006 is a specialist of Oriental Studies. However, he has been in web programming for over 10 years. About a year ago, he made a revolutionary decision – to study winemaking and start a business in this field.

32-year-old Hagop learned from Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organisation about the intensive course organised by GIZ. Upon his wife Gohar’s advice he decided to apply for it.

“My connection with wine for many years has only been that of an active consumer. Though none of our family members produced wine I have always been interested in agriculture. We are now implementing agricultural projects in Kalavan with my wife Gohar”, Hagop notes.

According to him, entering agriculture through winemaking is more interesting – to grow grapes, produce wine, bottle and sell it. All these processes are very exciting.

Hagop passed all the phases of Wine Incubation Project – starting from the trainings until the very last phase – together with his wife Gohar. The latter has more experience in agriculture and natural resources management, as she has run projects related to greenhouses and organic agriculture. Now the spouses decided to start a family business in wine.

They find both the intensive course and the very incubation phase very informative, interesting and useful. They managed to discover a lot of peculiarities of the field and gain new skills.

“It’s a very serious field. I couldn’t even imagine one should know so much scientific information to be able to operate in the field. I could never think there is so much science in producing wine”, notes Gohar.

As a result of the project, they will produce red wine from Haghtanak grape variety. The wine has been aged in Armenian oak barrels for seven months.

The bottled wine will enter the Armenian market with “Galar” brand: the label itself features a winding symbol (edit. – “galar” in Armenian means “twist, winding road”. According to Hagob, it first represents a winding road or a journey, illustrates the grape vine trunk as well as depicts the swirl of wine as it is poured into a glass and swirled to encourage the activation of aromas.

“The trident of symbolism connects the elements of the brand’s identity. The winding road illustrated the journey of the founders and the unforeseen twist in their life’s path that journeyed them together, and more so, placed them on the path of winemaking”, says Hagop.

The grape vine trunk symbolises the strong foundation in place, identity, and history. It speaks of the ancestral bonds and carrying of experiences and their eventual revival/awakening. It is a homage to Hagop’s Great Grandfather who cultivated grapes and owned vineyards in Urfa. historical Edessa, before the Armenian Genocide.

Though winemaking and web programming barely have anything in common, Hagop notes that he will do his best to put his experience in IT into winemaking especially in the wine marketing and sales.

The couple is willing to invest the amount from selling 500 bottles of wines provided by the project in business development. Next year, they will already order the second batch which will also be from Haghtanak grape.

However, Hagop and Gohar have more ambitious goals and plans.

The land belonging to the family near Voskehat village which has not been cultivated for around 20 years will soon become a vineyard. Hagop says that his visit to Voskehat Centre of the Armenian National Agrarian University before the start of project became decisive.

“It was exciting for us to visit the winery. When I saw that it was only a kilometer away from our land, I got a signal that it was worth getting more in-dept knowledge of winemaking, plant a vineyard and produce wine from the grapes grown by me”, he says.

The couple is hopeful in near future they will have their small winery with a vineyard. However, they have more plans and goals.

“We have a vision which is ambitious and a bit romantic. We want to have a small vineyard in each of Armenia’s winemaking regions where we will grow the newly restored Armenian grape varieties, and we would also plant the lost varieties, thus having wine from each region. For instance, we will have white wine from Tavush, Areni or Areni-like varieties, which are being restored, from Vayots Dzor, etc.”, says the couple.

It’s often said that selling wine means selling emotions. A buyer not only purchases the wine but also the story and philosophy behind its brand.

“When we visited different wineries a year ago, we fell in love with their stories and returned to Yerevan to buy the wines to taste or just keep them. We are sure we will manage to tell our story the way consumers will feel the same bond that we had with other wines”, notes the couple.

“Galar” wine has love and emotion in it, and the couple hopes that those who will taste it will really have pleasant and enjoyable moments, as the back of the label reads: “Great adventures are made by unforeseen twists and the union of unlikely companions. May the winding roads of life bring you together with your unexpected partner. Let every sip of Galar make your journey an adventure.”