Interview with Artem Parseghyan
For episode 7 of Armenia by the glass podcast, I interviewed Artem Parseghyan chief winemaker of Trinity Canyon Vineyards and owner of Hazarvaz wines.
Artem Parseghyan is the chief winemaker of Trinity Canyon Vineyards in Armenia. He studied biology at Yerevan State University for his undergraduate degree, but he soon developed an interest in winemaking. In 2011, he embarked on a two year Masters programme in Winemaking, Viticulture and Wine Business. First, he spent a year at the University of SupAgro in Montpellier, France, then at Geisenheim University in Germany. In between these years, he undertook an internship at the winery, Quinta da Lagoalva in Portugal. Artem was drawn to Portugal as, like Armenia, it also had indigenous grapes unknown to many around the world. He leant their method of introducing consumers to indigenous grapes by using blends. “By blending an unknown indigenous grape with a known variety such as Syrah”, he said, “the consumer becomes aware of the indigenous grape. The hope is that maybe the consumer will then go on and try a single varietal of the indigenous grape."
After completing his studies in 2013, Artem returned to Armenia and joined Trinity Canyon Vineyards, the year they had just released their first vintage. Alongside his role at Trinity, he also has his own vineyard, which he purchased back in 2020. He recently released his own first vintage under the label, Hazarvaz.
Artem's vineyard is found 1480 masl in Aghavanadzor village in Vayots Dzor. Artem describes the village’s terroir as "one of the most important, if not the most, important terroir, in the Vayots Dzor region as most of the top red wines are made from the grapes grown in the village". 70 – 80 % of Areni grapes are produced in Aghavnadzor. It has plantations with various altitudes of 1200 masl to 1500masl. Artem said, "The landscape of Aghavnadzor is incredible. Areni grape is a variety that expresses terroir amazingly well. This diversity of the landscape, terroir, soil quality is amazing, you can get 100s of styles of Areni just from the village of Aghavnadzor.”
Artem's idea for Hazarvaz is to produce wine from a single vineyard. Artem purchased an abandoned vineyard with vines aged 150 years old vines. This meant he had the task of bringing them back to life.
The vines are planted on their own rootstock as the Vayots Dzor region is free from phylloxera. With the biodiversity available in the area, plants grow alongside the vines. The vines are trained in the similar French style known as gobelet, which means that they are grown like bushes without any posts or trellises for support. He managed to harvest his grapes last year and produced 1000 bottles. The grapes were fermented with skin contact for 3-4 weeks, partially in terracotta vessels and stainless steel. The wine was then placed in Karabagh oak for ten months. He uses Artsakh oak barrels at their 4th or 5th use to allow the fruitiness of the Areni grape to come through. Due to the vineyard's elevation at 1480masl, the grapes maintain their acidity.
The label tells the story of the vineyard. Firstly, the name, Hazarvaz, means 1000 vines. Secondly, there is a picture of a snake which represents a legend about the vineyard. "In the Vayots Dzor region”, Artem says. “we have vipers which are poisonous snakes. According to village history, the vineyard was called "Snake bitten” because a thief tried to steal the vines, but the snake bit the thief and "saved" the vines from being taken."
Hazarvaz is now available in several outlets in Armenia.
For more information visit http://parseghyanvineyards.com/