The Two Women Who Redefined Armenia’s Wine Tourism


The Two Women Who Redefined Armenia’s Wine Tourism

Regional Post met with Mary Badalyan and Nune Manukyan, the women behind Yerevan Wine Days and the founders of EventToura agency, to learn about the path they took to establish one of the largest wine festivals in the region.

Text : Hena Aposhian
Photo : Eventtoura


Mary Badalyan                                                                                 Nune Manukyan

Before the Yerevan Wine Days festival, Armenia, renowned for its rich wine heritage, had already had the Areni Wine Festival for 15 years, established by Nune Manukyan herself. However, she saw the demand for a larger platform at some point: “I wanted to showcase Armenia as a wine region with a rich legacy.” After getting acquainted with her soon-to-be business partner, Mary Badalyan, they decided to team up and make it happen. “Since 2008, the Areni Wine Festival has attracted tourists to Armenia. However, by 2016, the wine industry had developed, and we had around 50-70 local Armenian winemakers. As successful as the Areni Wine Festival was, it had a different format and, thus, was not enough to represent the whole Armenian wine industry. Seeing the niche was important, and Nune saw that and brought the idea to life.” explained Mary Badalyan. While Mary’s expertise lay in business, and she was never involved in the tourism/festival industries before, something captivated her about Yerevan’s very own Wine Festival. From her own experiences as a tourist abroad, she knew that all tourists appreciate such festivals, and such events have the power to bring them closer to a country’s culture.



When establishing Yerevan Wine Days, Mary and Nune aimed to create not just a festival but a long-lasting Armenian product. With the tourism industry evolving and the world rapidly changing, they knew Armenia had to keep up. “We wanted people to come to Yerevan, learn about Armenia, and remember our city’s name,” Mary emphasized.

To everyone’s surprise, the very first Yerevan Wine Days was a smash hit, with 10.000 people attending it that year. “Something new was created; It was the messiest one of our festivals, but it’s also everyone’s favorite,” Nune fondly recalled. 

After the festival’s triumph, both founders looked ahead, envisioning where it might be in 10, 20, or even 30 years. Mary’s priority was clear: crafting a business model that could stand independently working with various sponsors rather than relying on grants or similar funding. Thanks to Yerevan Wine Days and EventToura, Armenia now boasts over 40 community festivals, all established based on their business model. As two strategic-minded women, Nune and Mary spotted new opportunities within the events landscape. They explain that people’s perceptions of festivals have changed. “Yerevan’s Wine Days established a blue ocean that brought a niche for festivals and created space for them to grow and approach sponsors.” 




“In short, Yerevan Wine Days built upon the foundation of the Areni Wine Festival. But as the industry grew, it needed something bigger—a festival for the city,” Mary said.

Today, EventToura’s core mission and vision revolve around fostering Armenia’s authentic tourism, ensuring the enduring life of its festivals, and promoting Armenia as not only a wine hub but also a peaceful and attractive tourist destination. “These festivals contribute to the country’s economy by drawing many tourists to these three-day events. Our mission is to put Armenia on the global stage through various means,” explained Nune.
Additionally, EventToura doesn’t just focus on its own success; it also aims to empower other Armenian organizations, encouraging collaboration rather than competition.

One of the major challenges they faced during the festival’s initial setup was proving that the country needed this festival. “One example is back in 2020, after the war, when we decided to hold the 2021 Yerevan Wine Days, we knew we would receive backlash for holding the festival amidst these horrific events. 



But with our forward-thinking approach, we aimed to attract many tourists and show them that although the country had just experienced a war, it was now safe and still operating like before,” remembered Mary.

According to both founders, the festival needs to be valued, appreciated, and safeguarded, not just by locals but also by the government. Before Yerevan Wine Days, no country had used the term “wine days”; now, many are adopting it. While one of their primary goals is to inspire other festivals, such imitations can undermine their uniqueness and impact. They stress the need for government involvement and support to address such challenges.

Today, having firmly established their presence, they are gearing up for larger-scale initiatives and believe that collaborating with neighboring countries in the region, such as Georgia, would be highly advantageous. “We want our neighboring countries to see us as business partners and work together to attract more tourists to the region. As two female entrepreneurs, we aim to cultivate successful business relationships with organizers from all our neighboring countries,” they explained. Nune also revealed that one of her early inspirations for launching Yerevan Wine Days came after attending Tbilisi’s Wine Festival. “Theirs was held in May, and after bringing my project to life, I envisioned ours a week earlier so that both festivals could complement each other, encouraging tourists to visit both countries,” she added.



While Nune fondly recalls the very first Yerevan Wine Days as her favorite, Mary points to 2019 as hers. It was the year she realized the festival had indeed come into its own, with all aspects meticulously planned out. “As an organizer, I view it from a business perspective, focusing on the logistics, issues, and overall outcome,” Mary explained.

Looking back at the challenges of 2020, when the pandemic hit, both Nune and Mary were impressed by their team’s flexibility. Within just ten days, they pivoted to organize an online event. “It wasn’t Yerevan Wine Days per se; it was a different product. But it showcased our team’s adaptability and flexibility skills. As a woman leader, it was a test for me as well, but it was an interesting experience—an adaptation test,” Nune reflected.

As two individuals who embrace innovation, both Mary and Nune acknowledge the importance of being open to making mistakes. “Making the right decisions is easy and doesn’t make you a leader. It’s the tough decisions that have a lasting impact. I believe we proved our leadership by making such tough calls and sticking by them,” Mary concluded.



Through their challenging journey, Nune and Mary have gathered insights they’re eager to share with women considering entrepreneurship. They’ve noticed a significant change in the mindset and work ethic of Armenian women over the past seven years, with more women taking on roles as small business owners and community leaders. However, they emphasize the importance of gender equality and collaboration, recognizing that both are essential for success.


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