Women in Wine

Women in Wine

Stereotypes broken!

Traditionally, winemaking and enology have been considered first and foremost as a masculine occupation. However, more and more Armenian women demonstrate interest in taking up the trade on a professional level.

 

Text : GIZ PSD TVET   
Photo : Zaruhi Muradyan's personal archive

 

Zaruhi Muradyan, head of Wine and Vine Foundation of Armenia, is a pioneering woman winemaker in Armenia. She has been partnering GIZ’s Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training South Caucasus (PSD TVET) programme since 2013. Here are a few thoughts she shared on how it feels like to be a woman entrepreneur in a predominantly male environment and her career development as now Head of Wine and Vine Foundation of Armenia, etc.

 


I am an enologist by profession. I graduated from the Agrarian University of Armenia after which I moved to California to study at Fresno University. It was at that time that I realized what winemaking was like and I fell in love with this profession.

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Since 2001 I have been breaking the stereotypes, doing business in wine in Armenia and promoting Armenian wines in different contexts. Who said that winemaking is solely the prerogative of men?

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Now I produce my wine – Zara Wines – which was recognized as the “Best Female Entrepreneur’s Brand of the Year” in 2017. I was pleasantly surprised because I was thinking that there are many companies and many business women whose products are more popular. But I think one of the main reasons why I was awarded the prize was that I work with less common and less familiar sorts of wine and, also because of my motivation to create unique wines.

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I understand that winemaking is a tough profession for a woman because it needs physical work. But if you correctly organise and manage the work of the wine factory combined with a good team, the job becomes quite easy.

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I am happy that Armenian winemaking has seen prominent growth over the recent years. During the Soviet Union we were known for our dessert wines while now we have a quite wide range of assortment and we are still working on more. We have enhanced the quality of wines. Many investments are made for the industry development; new vineyards are established, and wine factories are provided with modern equipment and technology. Our wines are already recognized outside of Armenia.

Zaruhi Muradyan and Victoria Aslanian, CEO at Golden Grape ArmAs

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Our goal is to create our Armenian brand, Wines of Armenia, also to present it in international wine markets. It’s been already three years that Armenian wines are represented at ProWein exhibition in Germany with the support of GIZ PSD TVET programme.

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Another great achievement was participation in Mundus Vini 2017 where our wines were awarded 10 gold and 13 silver medals, which is, definitely, only the beginning of our successes.

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These and other achievements helped us gain more consumption in the country. Recently, we have been organizing interesting wine events in the domestic market; wine festivals, wine tasting, wine evenings, etc. Last year "Yerevan Wine Days", a two-day wine festival, was organised in Yerevan in May. It is already two years that the students of Yerevan Wine Academy have had master classes at different places, bars and restaurants on how to serve wine, drink and mix it with other dishes.

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The development of wine tourism has its special role as well. Some years ago, you could hardly find a wine factory which was able to host tourists while now almost all wineries currently provide this service. We are also planning to establish wine routes, e.g. in Vayots Dzor region. All these items contribute to the increase of Armenian wine consumption in the domestic market.

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To develop and promote Armenian wines, Wine and Vine Foundation of Armenia was established within RA Ministry of Agriculture. The Foundation is operating in several areas aimed at promoting export, science, education, winemaking and wine tourism. Different events are being carried out both in Armenia and abroad to raise the awareness of our wines. We’re working to promote preservation and dissemination of endemic and local grape varieties.

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And of course, it’s worth mentioning the first International Wine Conference held in Yerevan in October 2017, organised with support of GIZ PSD TVET and other international and local partners. It brought together wine sector representatives from different parts of the world to discuss top issues in the sphere and exchange opinions and experience. We hope the conference will become a good tradition and expand its geography in the years to come.

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The Foundation takes efforts to improve visibility of Armenia as a wine country: visits of wine bloggers to Armenia are also organised, which aim to raise the awareness of Armenian wines in the international arena.

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There is still a lot to do in the sector, e.g. we together with partners, like GIZ, are trying to set the wine industry's legal framework and engage other young women to work in the sector.

  

GIZ PSD TVET

It’s been 6 years now that GIZ’s Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training South Caucasus (PSD TVET) programme has been supporting wine sector, among others relevant for employment in Armenia – tourism and precision engineering/IT. Being a priority economic area declared by the government, wine production in Armenia has been growing over the recent years.

Throughout all the phases of its implementation (the regional programme started back in 2013) the programme supported local winemakers to promote their products and enhance wine quality, as well as to establish an 18-month educational programme “Enology and Wine Business” and provide EVN Wine Academy with top-notch equipment and expert knowledge.