Interview with Zara Serobyan of GInVino - Best Wines Off the Beaten Path.
I launched the Armenia by the glass podcast by interviewing Zara Serobyan, founder and owner of GInVino - Best Wines Off the Beaten Path.
Zara was born in Armenia, but at the age of 18, she went to the US to study economics. After a brief return to Armenia, she moved to London in 2004 and spent more than ten years working in corporate finance. It wasn’t until a sabbatical when she started to discover the world of wines.
Where it all started
During her time in London, Zara used to go to tango lessons, so she chose Argentina for her sabbatical. She wanted to go to a place where she felt a connection, and her love for tango was the reason for her choice. She soon discovered another connection: the Armenian community, which she got involved in during her stay in Buenos Aires. Zara recalls, “When I landed, the first thing I read in the airport was “Pari Kaloust!" I was so pleasantly surprised.”
Zara began exploring wines at Vinoteca in downtown Buenos Aires. It’s here that her path crossed with winemaker Roberto de la Mota from Mendoza, and he was impressed with her ability to describe the wines they were tasting. He invited her to Mendoza, where she started developing her knowledge of Argentinian wines. When she returned to London, she enrolled at a WSET school. She soon began working with Argentinian wines and exporting them for the Russian market.
Some good advice from Dad
In 2017, Zara attended the Prowein Dusseldorf trade fair, and it was here she got to know about Armenian wines. Zara said her Dad persuaded her to try the Armenian wines, “My Dad actually challenged me, and he said, 'You are there. You should go to the other pavilions and try the Armenian wines.' I must tell you, at first, I shrugged it off. I said, 'Dad, what are you talking about Armenian wines? Seriously?' and he said, 'You should go even just to broaden your horizons.'" She tried the Armenian wines and was shocked at how good some of them were. When she returned to the UK, she started preparing for her trip to Armenia to see if a business in Armenian wines was viable.
Finding the wines
After researching and meeting various vineyard owners and producers, Zara found Voskevaz, Van Ardi and Old Bridge and she is the official importer and distributor of their wines. All three producers are family-run. Zara said, "It’s good to be working with family businesses because they have a vested interest in developing the brand for their kids.”
The impact of Covid 19
Like many businesses, Zara had to adapt to the effects of Covid 19. Her main business of providing to trade was put on hold when hotels and restaurants had to shut. However, Zara quickly adapted and started to offer online tastings for corporate clients. She also created discovery boxes. Zara was pleasantly surprised to see that clients were keen to buy boxes of wines they had not tried. “We had clients who would start with the Discovery Box and move all the way up to the Amphora Box."
Zara has projects in the pipeline and will let us know about them when they launch. One project is her expansion into areas such as Lebanon. She is currently working with boutique Lebanese wineries. She has encountered an Armenian connection during this journey: one of the Lebanese wineries is owned by an Armenian.
Zara also informed us that she'll soon be importing a wine called Tor-Tori from Van Ardi. Zara described the wine as “amazing.”
For more information about GinVino, visit www.ginvino.com. You can follow Zara on social media: Twitter: @GInVino1 and Instagram: @ginvino