Armenia: A Guest Blog by Regina Steeneck

(Regina and Lee Steeneck have traveled on many of our tours. They were both on our recent tour starting in Armenia and Regina volunteered to write a summary of the Armenia portion of the tour for which Vinny, Ana and I thank her.)

We wrapped up our 3 day stay in Armenia – a lovely country with snow capped mountains (including Mount Ararat) and rolling hills. Terraine is rocky with multi colored rocks so many houses and buildings are stone (with tin roof). Food has been tasty with lots of vegetables, seared pork, chicken, minced beef in grape leaves, etc. English is not widely spoken but we have a local guide to translate. We cannot read the written language.

We visited Areni area where the first wines originated 6000 years ago. We toured a cave being excavated and remains of terracotta wine vats still exist. We visited a lovely family winery that has a small production of white and red wines. We visited NOY for a Brandy tasting as well as a 1944 red wine that tasted like port.

Armenia is a Christian country. We visited 4 monasteries as old as 600AD. Some are restored but the oldest is mostly ruins. Monasteries were destroyed by earthquakes and Ottomans and not necessarily by age. Most have only a few arched windows

Tatev monastery, Armenia

Tatev monastery, Armenia

and are conical so are very sturdy.

We visited the Armenian Genocide Monument – a somber and moving display of the story of the attempt by Young Turks Muslim to eliminate the Armenian Christian people in early 1900’s. The killing methods were barbaric. At least 1.5 million died.

There are 8 of us plus Vin Jr of Wine Lovers International and tour leader Vahn on a small bus. The Opera Suite Hotel was center city and very modern and spacious. One dinner was in a tavern with Armenian musicians and singers. Some travelers joined in dancing.

When we get to the Georgia border we have to change drivers, bus, tour leader. Passport control was interesting. On the way we passed through the mountains and an area described as Little Switzerland. There was one more winery stop before our border crossing.

We passed through a small town close to the Azerbaijan border that our tour leader said last week had some shooting between the two countries – that was comforting :(. At least we steered clear of the Iran border.

Tasting rooms have been lovely. There were a couple of nice wines but we are not bringing them home and they probably will not be available on the East coast.

All and all a good and interesting visit.

Author Vin Marottoli

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