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July 23
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Delving into the world of Armenian winemaking, we found ourselves at the crossroads of innovation and tradition, right at its heart. NEWS.am's interview with Juliana Del Aguila Eurnekian, owner and president of Karas Wines, and Karen Meymaryan, the exclusive distributor of Karas Wines in the US, will unveil the success story behind the winery, and its journey from the birthplace of wine to the US.

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Juliana begins her story with memories of the difficult times of the early 20th century, when her family, like many Armenian families, was forced to flee Armenia escaping genocide and found refuge in Argentina. In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an opportunity to return to Armenia opened up for Juliana's family. Her grandfather, Andranik Eurnekian, and his brother, Eduardo Eurnekian, began to think about how they could contribute to the restoration of their homeland. Ten years later, inspired by the story of Noah and the first planted grapevine at the foot of the majestic Ararat Mountain, the Karas winery opened and sparked the renaissance of Armenian winemaking.

Karas: family vision

The founding history of Karas winery is evidence of our constant desire for excellence and innovation in the Armenian wine market. Ever since my great uncle Eduardo Eurnekian started his vineyards in the Ararat Valley in the early 2000s, our family has had a dream of creating world-class wines that capture Armenia’s unique terroir.

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Our family mission was to revive the lost traditions of wine production, when the local industry was forgotten and neglected, and to establish Armenia as a valuable wine-producing region. Our expertise and entrepreneurial spirit has helped us understand and appreciate the uniqueness of this ancient land even more, using it to our advantage in becoming the pioneers of the renaissance of Armenian winemaking. Our dedication to tradition in combination with innovative thinking has allowed us to put Armenia on the international wine map, showcasing its rich wine heritage and immense potential as an emerging wine region.

Unique terroir characteristics and care for 450 hectares of vineyards

The vineyards of our winery are located in the breathtakingly beautiful Ararat Valley, a place, where, according to the Bible, Noah set foot and planted the very first grapevine. This heavenly terroir is characterized by high altitude (more than 1000 meters above the sea level), volcanic soils and continental climate, which give our grapes their distinctive character. The combination of abundant sunshine, moderate rainfall, and cool mountain air creates ideal conditions for growing high-quality grapes rich in flavor.

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Caring for the vineyards and ensuring the highest quality harvest are the main priorities of our winery. On top of careful soil melioration, we use a variety of viticultural techniques throughout the season, including careful hand pruning and yield control, as well as manual harvest. A team of experienced winegrowers carefully monitors the condition of every single plant on an enormous 450 hectares vineyard, using advanced technologies and traditional methods to optimize the grape growing process. Both renowned European varieties, such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Malbec, and indigenous Armenian varieties, including Kangun, Areni and Khndogni (Sireni), are grown here. This diversity of grapes gives us the opportunity to achieve a wide range of aromas and flavors, satisfying the most sophisticated palates of our consumers. 

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In addition, great attention is paid to the environmental aspect - we apply organic and even some biodynamic methods to minimize environmental impact and ensure long-term soil health.

Winemaking philosophy based on harmony of tradition and modern technology

We are convinced that the art of creating premium wines lies in the harmonious combination of traditional winemaking methods with modern technologies. Working according to this principle, we handpick the best grape varieties from our plantations, striving for the optimal degree of ripeness to preserve their natural taste and aroma. Our state-of-the-art winemaking equipment allows precise control of every stage of the process, from fermentation in traditional amphoras to aging in oak barrels. Every step must be honed to highlight the unique characteristics of our grapes, creating wines of exceptional quality.

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The character and taste of our wines are largely determined by environmental factors unique to the Ararat Valley. The volcanic soil gives the grapes rich mineral tones, while the continental climate creates optimal conditions for ripening. The location of our vineyards at a significant altitude, together with the cool mountain air, contributes to the formation of grapes with pronounced acidity and complex aromatics. 

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Moreover, Karas' passion for sustainable agricultural practices ensures that the vineyards persist within the environment, which in turn allows them to augment and convey the unique characteristics of the Armenian terroir in every drop of wine.

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From the renaissance of Armenian winemaking to international recognition

Our success on the global stage is driven by our unwavering commitment to quality, consistency, and environmental stewardship; to making wines from Armenia to the world.

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Every step of our winemaking process, from vineyards to shelves, is carefully taken to ensure our products meet the highest standards. We focus on innovation and continuous improvement to stay ahead and adapt to changing market needs, and by staying true to our values and embracing the unique methods of Armenian winemaking, we were able to make Karas an internationally recognized brand.

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Our strong position in the American market serves as clear proof of the quality and appeal of Armenian products in a highly competitive environment. Success lies in the ability to establish deep connections with consumers by educating them about Armenia's wine heritage and the high-class terroir of Ararat Valley. By placing value in education and awareness campaigns, we have been able to win the loyalty of wine lovers who value authenticity and craftsmanship in production.

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Karen Meymaryan, managing director of Fat & Happy Beverages the exclusive distributor of Karas wines in the United States, shares the story of how the winery began to conquer the American market and how it created recognition and demand among foreign wine connoisseurs.

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The polar star of Armenian wines in the US

With Karas at its forefront, Armenian wines have gained significant recognition in the US, winning over foreign customers every day, and gradually solidifying Armenia's position as an important player in the global wine industry. It is worth noting that for the game we are playing, we need to follow many rules that apply to the Armenian wine market: improvement in both the quality and quantity of Armenian wines, growing demand from local producers on the foreign market, interest of distributors of Armenian wines in the American segment, as well as the enormous attention of American consumers to Armenian wines. Then, when you establish a status of a world-class wine, of course, the further you go, the higher are the responsibilities and the stakes, and the tougher the selection becomes.

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Brand extension strategy: Path to leadership and collaboration

We are currently Karas’ exclusive distributor in the USA. Our goal is to build a reliable and competitive business that meets the requirements of the American market. And we are facing this challenge quite  successfully, inspired by the fact that we are making history within the Armenian wine industry. Our recent achievements include the fact of being listed to the best known store chains in the USA reaching another important milestone of having our Karas wines on the most desired shelves in this important market.

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On the big map of the USA, we chose California as the starting point for creating a brand. And, believe me, it makes sense, given its dense population and economic importance as the largest state. At the same time, our team is constantly working to expand our presence throughout the states by increasing the number of retail locations and stores where our products are available. We work in such a way as not to compete with other Armenian brands in the USA. On the contrary, our goal is to unite with our compatriots and increase the recognition of Armenian wines through common efforts remaining the pioneers in the revival of Armenian wine. This approach allows Karas to take a leading position in the market and raise awareness of the segment, ultimately competing with other Eastern European brands or long established wine making countries.

How to gain the appeal of foreign consumers

So, what makes Karas stand out on the shelves among other wines and why is it so appealing to our consumers abroad? There are several determining factors.

First, there is the brand's history, which represents Armenia's rich winemaking heritage and surely Karas’spioneering role in the ongoing renaissance of Armenian wine.

Secondly, this is a team of professionals who stand behind every drop of wine. We do not only mean people making the wine, but also real specialists with high work ethics and attention to detail who are passionate about making the uniqueness of Armenia known to the world.

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And finally, this is the company's vision to create world-class wines that reflect the spirit and authenticity of Armenia. This vision includes not only the production of quality wines, but also the dedication to sustainable practices and desire to build bridges between Armenia and the world. 

Today, our medium-term goal is to reach every major shopping center in California, introduce our products to local customers, raise awareness about Armenian wines and convince our fellow Americans  that products from our homeland are equal in quality to globally recognized brands, while possessing a fascinating one-of-a-kind character of their own.

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