As all forms of art, wine is all about dedication and service to the process of creation. The very winemaker should always be in harmony with nature, which is fundamental to the art of winemaking.
To be productive while working with nature, one should learn how to live with it in a symphony. The ambience of all the lifecycles of the wine – from grape to glass – should be filled with love and kindness.
For already three decades, Van Ardi family-run winery has been passing on their love and kindness from the hands of a grape grower to the fragile vine, and from the hands of a winemaker to the wonderful wines of Van Ardi, with a goal to evoke and keep these feelings in people through their wines.
Wine can be made by anyone, but only the selected can breathe soul into it. Dedication and service to wine is the key success factor on the thorny evolutionary road of Van Ardi.
''You can find a lot of love and warmth here'', here is how the family-run estate can be characterized, and their wines are full of sun and kindness.
If you at least once let the wines reach the depths of your soul, they'll live there forever and you will become the member of “Van Ardi Friends and Family”.
Wine is a living organism with its own lifecycle. Upon its creation, wine is invisibly linked to its creator, the winemaker, conveying all his thoughts, feelings and moods. To produce fine wine, one's initial intentions should be good, and so should be the creator and his family.
These were the views of accountant Varuzhan Muradyan's family who moved to the U.S. in 1992. It was there, in the U.S., that they felt the first spark of passion for wine. Soon they tried their hand in producing homemade wine in their house.
In 2002, however, they already had the complete vision of the goal and Varuzhan's dream – to create a family-run estate with their own vineyards.
In 2003, in the private house yard in Glendale, they produced their first wine by trial and error to proudly treat it to all the guests. 2 bottles of this family relic is still kept in the cellar of the winery. In 2004, the family bought the first vineyards in the homeland to kick off the big family project, the meaning of their family’s life.
Varuzhan Muradyan shortly became an ambitious enologist. The wine by the self-made winemaker with grand plans and kind heart shortly conquered the hearts of Armenian gourmets. However, simultaneously, the winemaker successfully passed professional courses in the Enology Center at University of California Davis.
Van Ardi was officially established in 2008.
The name of the company comes from the ancient Armenian city of Van in Western Armenia (nowadays – Eastern Turkey). The city of Van once boasted a rich history of winemaking with various autochthonous varieties and large-scale vineyards. During the event dedicated to official establishment of the winery, they used soil from Van – a symbol and tribute to the ancestors from the ancient capital.
The second word, “Ardi”, derives from the name of the pagan goddess of sun, Ardini (Shivini), whose cult was concentrated in the capital city of Tushpa.
Van Ardi thus means “the sun of Van”, which in future transformed to become the life creed of the winery – ''The sun of Van in your glass''.
The winery's logo is also linked to goddess Ardini as a symbol of the sun worship and the element of naturalness in the winery's production.
The idea of goodness in the Muradyan family is cherished and passed on from one generation to another. In case of Varuzhan's father, it was also based on faith. The latter was a priest who for many years had served in the ancient monasteries of Khor Virap and Geghard. As a symbol of the unshakeable faith, he cast a bell engraved with numerous messages and scenes from the Holy Scripture by himself. Today, the bell hangs on the tall tower amongst the large vineyards of the estate.
Combining kindness, love and faith in him, the owner transmits it all through the bell ringing. It soars over the hectares of vineyards, touches every single grape filling it with love and energy.
The melody of the bell is auspicious for the grape growth as well, especially in the period of ripening when the grape consists mostly of water – almost for 80,5%.
“If you sow the thorn, you will never reap the grape”.
Undoubdetly, vine accounts for the lion's share of the success in winemaking. It is the care and love for the vine that is transmitted through and reflected in wine.
This is the philosophy of Van Ardi's hereditary viticulturist, Gagik Khachatryan, who has been working hard in the vineyards for many years now.
The Van Ardi vineyards with a total territory of 9 hectares are located in the region of Aragatsotn. The first vines, around 7.5 hectares, were planted in 2008, and the remaining 1.5 hectares are 9 years old. In 2021, the preparatory works for planting a new vineyard with the total territory of 10 hectares started.
The climate of the region is quite whimsy and unpredictable with high probability of hail. In 2016, the estate lost almost 50% of the harvest due to the severe hail. Today, the vineyards are protected with a special Australian system to preserve the vines against hail and birds. The vineyards are not covered for winter.
The solis are mainly of volcanic origin, with large consistency of rocks, major boulders, local tuff; in some places one can come across limestone layers.
While planting the first vines in 2008, major rocks were blown up and pulled down using a special technique. Nowadays, in some cases the root system of the vine cannot grow due to a thick layer of rocks. A special technology is needed in such cases to pull down the layers with high-precision devices and plant the vine back.
Due to the specificity of soil structure, the vineyards are not high-yielding. Consequently, during the green harvest the crop capacity decreases by only 10-15% depending on a year.
All the vines are faced to the south-east which is beneficial for the vegetative process. The average height of the vineyards is 1050 above the sea level.
The estate exploits installments of drip irrigation to help save the freshwater reserves. The water reaches vines through special reservoir built in the vineyard, with an overall capacity of 4500cubic meters. Due to densness of rocks in the soil, the vineyards are irrigated more frequently than usual.
Harvesting starts in September and lasts till late November; exclusively manual harvest is used.
The best vintages of the winery were 2013 and 2015.
Van Ardi has pioneered in cultivating the red authochtonous varieties fo Areni, Kakhet, Haghtanak and an international variety, Syrah. As for the whites, Voskehat and Kangun are cultivated.
To ensure the whole capacity of production, 30% of grapes are purchased from local farmers in the neighboring villages.
Cultivation of organic vineyards is a rare and hard choice for Armenian winemaking, and Van Ardi can indeed be proud of having them. They will receive an official international certificate on organic vineyards.
Van Ardi is the first family-run boutique winery in Armenia. Despite the high popularity the owner does not want to change this concept. Van Ardi will remain the same family-run estate with high-class wine.
Skillfully combining aesthetic and technological approaches, the estate has managed to find the golden mean. The whole building faced with calcareous tuff - natural travertine to create the effect of a rock-cut cave.
To ensure high quality of production, the technical base of the production needs to be constantly upgraded, thus the winery is regularly fit out with modern equipment.
The production workshop is located below 7 meters to create favourable conditions for winemaking. The fresh grape juice squeezed out of primary processing by gravity fills the two stainless steel tanks with a capacity of 4tons and 10tons, made by Ghidi Metalli (Italy).
The high-class membrane press is purchased from an international company Enoveneta (Italy). The machine operates in a unique gentle mode not to damage the grape seeds.
Enoveneta also produces modern filter installments for Van Ardi.
A yeast strain from Laffort (France) is used for the production.
The bottling is carried out through 6-compartment semi-automatic bottling machine with a capacity of 300-350 thousand bottles per hour.
The bottles are supplied by Vetreria Etrusca (Italy) with natural whole corks (Carat +) from Korken GÜLTIG (Germany).
The wine is aged in barrels from Caucasian (70%) and French (30%, NADALIE) barrels.
Overall 90 classical medium toast barriques with a capacity of 225l are used. The optimal term of exploitation is 3 years.
In 2020, the winery's volume of production reached up to 150 000 bottles – 60% reds and 40% whites.
Van Ardi produces 3 lines – Classic (Red, White and Rose), Reserve (Red – 3 wines) and Tor-Tori (Red and White).
The first vintage was 2013 – Van Ardi Classic and Van Ardi Reserve – with overall 18000 bottles.
The average potential of ageing and development in a bottle for whites makes 5 -10 years, and for the reds, particularly the ones in Reserve line, is up to 10-20 years.
Van Ardi Reserve wines are exclusively popular among consumers. 3 reds of Reserve (Areni Reserve, Syrah Reserve and Syrah Blend) of the 2013 vintage became exceptionally popular on both local and international markets.
These wines are produced in a unique way, with a focus on the specially allocated small-scale segments in the vineyards, the green harvest process as well as thorough selection of the grapes.
The relatively new line – Tor-Tori – is represented by red and white wines. The first vintage of Tor-Tori White was the 2019 (100% Kangun) and Tor-Tori Red was made from the 2018 vintage (90% Arenia nd 10% Syrah).
Tor-Tori's concept is based on minimum human intervention and maximum merging with the nature. The name of the line comes from ancient little-known grape variety Tor-Tori, originating from Van region in Western Armenia (nowadays – Eastern Turkey). Tor-Tori line will undoubdetly help restore and popularize the ancient authochtonous variety with a forgotten yet centuries-long history.
Producing quality wine with a unique character is an art to be presented and promoted correctly. To do that, Van Ardi develops wine tourism within the winery.
Today, the winery cooperates with tour operators which increased the visitors of the winery: it hosted over 1500 tourists in 2019.
Van Ardi's love and passion for music is reflected wine and jazz, wine and pop music events performed by local cover bands. Van Ardi also organizes events with participation of art and culture representatives to position wine as a real piece of art.
Within the wine tourism projects, modern dance performances with elements of Urartu-epoch culture and wine worship scenes are staged and open-air film screenings in the vineyards are organized.
All the events are aimed at promoting wine culture in Armenia and presenting Armenia as a winemaking country with unique terroir and large potential.
The creed of the events is ''Van Ardi Friends and Family'' which comes to prove the dedication to the cause and special love for wine.
The winery also takes part in international and local wine festivals and contests; the wines have been repeatedly awarded at international contests and were highly regarded by both professionals and winelovers.
The winery is also home to an enoteca with 300 bottles of various vintages for personal use which is regularly enriched.
Van Ardi loves to experiment not only with wine but also homemade cuisine. It has an exclusive restaurant with European and semi-Armenian cuisine led by chef Anahit Muradyan, the spouse and the main support of the winemaker.
Van Ardi's success recipe is the exclusively family approach to the project spiced up by the positive energy of the employees as well as ideal observation of basic rules and fundamentals of the classical winemaking. Everything great is simple and beautiful.
The winery also has a dream weaved into the main purposes: to contribute to Armenia's recognition as a winemaking country on the gloabl map and be involved in the renaissance and development of the wine culture in the country.
Over time, the internal and external policy of Van Ardi have been ideally balanced; 50% of the overall production is exported and the rest is produced for local consumers.
Van Ardi wines are represented in Russia, England, France, Belgisum, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Canada. At the same time, the winery constantly works to expand the external market geography.
The estate is not planning the massively increase the volume of production, as the concept of a boutique family-run winery is a priority.
As a new area, Van Ardi is planning to start and develop natural high-quality grape seed oil production.