By: Christine Soussa
Beautifully situated in the West Armavir Region between Mount Aragats and Mount Ararat lives is a spectacular haven where a family winery has dedicated itself to creating incredible wines, employing the community, and making Armenia a globally recognized region producing high quality wines. With love, innovation and a pursuit of valuing the rich cultural and historical significance of the region, Karas Wines is producing some of the best wines in Armenia! During a recent trip to Armenia, we were able to spend a lot of time visiting the full production winery. We enjoyed a private tasting with winemaker Gabriel Rogel and got to learn about his craft and sip on some award-winning wines, the reserve collection, and ready to enjoy every day wines! We are incredibly proud of our friends at Karas who are revolutionizing the wine industry in Armenia. Born in Mendoza, Argentina, Gabriel brings his classical training, art and love for authentic wines to Karas. We were able to spend some time with Gabriel to learn about his vision for Karas wines and his technique.
A bit about your background…
I graduated from the University of Juan Agustin Mazza in Mendoza, Argentina, in 2011. As a student, I had the opportunity to work at many different wineries. This gave me a very important competitive advantage and unique perspective. My first experience was in a wine analytical laboratory, where I gained a lot of scientific knowledge and insights in the field. After that, I moved to a bulk production winery where I participated in three harvests. After participating in large production, I wanted to experience smaller production higher quality wines, so I found work at other winery where we were producing different kind of special high quality wines. This was also my first experience producing sparkling wine. After 2 harvests, I had the opportunity to work at “Flechas de los Andes” (Closs de los 7) where we were producing very high quality wines. Also I had one harvest in Brazil, were the focus was on the sparkling wines. This gave me the experience to understand all the ways to produce wines! In 2013, I moved to Armenia to work at Karas!
What is your approach to winemaking?
My intention is to present the real territorial characteristics of the place through the wine. I really want the express the origin and authenticity of the particular wine and give a memorable experience to those who enjoy the wines we produce. This is my priority. It is important to produce noble wines, that are sincere, delicious and easy to drink.
How does being born and raised in Argentina influence how you make wines in Armenia?
Well, my experience comes from Argentina. I studied there, started my career there and fell in love with wine during my experiences. Each region is different and particular when it comes to winemaking. Some regions of Armenia are similar to Argentina but the culture is totally different. Thus, I am able to use my classical training to create unique wines, particular to the region in Armenia. This makes it really unique. Armenia has an incredible potential to produce delicious wines. I try to adjust my experiences to produce the highest quality wines Armenia has to offer. At Karas we have planted many varietals including Chardonnay, Viognier, Kangun, for white wines and Malbec, Tannat, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc for red wines to name a few. This gives me many options and allows us to produce many types of high quality wines.
How does Karas differ?
At Karas we especially focus on our vines. We work hard all the year to prepare our grapes. Then the nature and the land of Armenia gives us back fruits of our work. Within the winery we are investing in the finest winemaking techniques which will allow us to have the correct balance. We like to make attractive wines that give our customers a memorable experience.
Kara’s also takes a very heartwarming approach to including the entire community. When Karas opened in Armenia, it started the revolution of the winemaking in region.
Karas is giving work to more than 500 families in the region, this is really special! Most of them are from the closest villages and take pride in doing their part to contribute to developing Armenia’s wine industry. This also gives them the opportunity to learn and get good experience. At Karas, this is something we are very proud of.
What makes Armenia a unique place to grow and make wine?
Armenia has a big potential to produce wines. The territories of different regions change significantly. Armenia’s incredible cultural heritage and rich traditions play a huge role and impact how we create and enjoy wine.
Another important point is the extremely changing weather. This is a challenge to produce wine but also a big advantage that gives the possibility to produce unique wines. For example, winters in Armenia are very cold. We must tend to our wines so they can sustain the snow and freezing temperatures in the winter.
What is your favorite thing about winemaking?
I all the steps of the winemaking process! In Armenia, each day presents a new challenges and this is very exciting. The harvest season is really enjoyable although it is also the hardest part of the year. But what I really enjoy and what satisfies me is when I see people ordering Karas in restaurants or bars, and enjoying our wines with their loved ones. This is great to see and it makes me happy that we are a part of people’s lives and memories.
What inspires you?
The challenges to improve the viniculture industry in Armenia and renovate the culture of winemaking in the country. This is the first step to come closer to positioning Armenian wines in the world.
The next time you see Karas at a restaurant, bar, or store, order it! Enjoy the beauty of Karas and the richness and magic of Armenian winemaking one sip at a time. We have fallen in love with not only the Karas wines, but what they believe in as a brand and what they have done for the local communities within the region. We are proud to have so many friends at Karas and cannot wait to see what other decadent wines they will produce. Cheers!
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About Karas Wines:
Located in Ararat Valley, between Mount Aragats and Mount Ararat, Armavir is the smallest and the most densely populated region in Armenia. The convenient location and the favourable climate have allowed this thriving region to become the epicentre of agricultural development. Aside from its highly agricultural background, Armavir also holds a rich historical and cultural legacy, thus attracting thousands of natives and tourists each year to well-known sites, such as the Sardarapat Battle Memorial, the religious and spiritual centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church: the Holy City of Echmiadzin. In 2003 the pursuit for developing an inspiring project lead us to discover these lands rich in minerals and suitable for high quality wine elaboration.The innovation and technology were key factors in achieving our objective, and as from 2010, the production of Karas allowed us to have our first commercial production and so define a new way in the production of Armenian wines. www.karaswines.com