Do you ever wonder how much history is corked inside a bottle of wine? Or how many secrets lurk in the wine you’re sipping? These are some of the questions that were on Vahan Zanoyan’s mind as he embarked on the adventure of writing his novel, Waking Noah’s Vines. Zanoyan presented his book in a Zoom session hosted by The Armenian National Committee of America’s Silicon Valley Chapter on May 31.
Previously scheduled to take place on March 28, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The event provided an opportunity for the community to gather in the face of the shelter-in-place order in effect at the time.
The presentation opened with remarks by Dr. Kengo Soghoyan, an ANCA Silicon Valley Chapter Executive member, who welcomed the participants and introduced the moderator, Raffi Kassarjian. Kassarjian is the CEO of Sensyan, a boutique advisory firm offering services to tech companies investing, operating, and launching in Armenia.
Kassarjian opened the program by acknowledging the current difficulties that humanity is facing all over the world and in the United States in particular. The program featured several special guests who are key players in the wine industry in Armenia, including Paul Hobbs. Hobbs is a visionary international vintner, owner and winemaker for California-based wineries. He is also the driving force behind international partnerships Viña Cobos of Argentina, Crocus of Cahors, Yacoubian-Hobbs of Armenia, and two projects in development: Alvaredos-Hobbs of Galicia, Spain and Hillick & Hobbs of the Finger Lakes.
It was noted that Hobbs served as an inspiration for one of the characters in Waking Noah’s Vines. Halle Butvin also joined the program. Butvin is the Director of Special Projects at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the curator of Armenia: Creating Home program at the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
The first portion of the presentation walked the audience through Zanoyan’s creative process, as well as a detailed account of the history of winemaking in the region, particularly in Armenia. The speakers took the audience on a journey through ancient spaces and times while discussing the history of winemaking in Armenia. At its heart, Waking Noah’s Vines is a novel about a group of adventurous vintners from around the world that embark on a wine-infused journey to revive the 6,000-year-old wine industry in Armenia after the country gained its independence from the Soviet Union. He also discussed the suitable microclimates in the region that contributed to the wine productions. Archaeological evidence suggests that wine production began in the region 9000 years ago, with further evidence showing that proper wine production started in Armenia about 6000 years ago. The winery in Areni, for example, is a complex wine producing setup that proves that Armenia was not only making wine but producing it too.
The second portion of the presentation consisted of an elegant tasting of hand-selected Armenian wines. The presenters discussed the wines and shared details about them with the audience. Zanoyan drew connections between moods and the types of wines. There are wines that enhance a celebratory mood and there are wines that pair well with a thoughtful mood. Each wine that they presented was produced in Armenia from 5 grapes that are
indigenous to the region.
Butvin mentioned here that the Smithsonian Institute will be planning “My Armenia Heritage Wine Tours” in 2021/2022. This will provide an opportunity to discover regions outside of Yerevan such as Vayots Dzor. The tours will include visits to wineries in the region, as well as meetings with the winemakers. More information will be available about this program soon.
Kassarjian concluded the presentation by paying tribute to the Armenian winemakers who invested in the Armenian wine-making industry, both reviving an ancient tradition and bringing Armenia back to the forefront of the wine world.
Thomas Chanian concluded the event with his closing remarks. Thomas is CEO & President of Knightsbridge Wireless Communications and an Executive Member of the ANCA of Silicon Valley. Thomas thanked the speakers for a captivating presentation and encouraged the audience to engage with ANCA locally.
Zanoyan is an author, traveler, global energy consultant and anti-trafficking advocate. He has published two volumes of poetry in Armenian (Վերադարձ in 2010 and Եզրէն Դուրս in 2011), and four novels in English. Inspired by a chance meeting with a young victim of sex trafficking, A Place Far Away was published in 2013. Its sequel, The Doves of Ohanavank, was published in 2014. His third novel, The Sacred Sands, reflects his personal experiences as an international energy consultant and was published in 2016. His latest novel, entitled Waking Noah’s Vines, was published in December 2019. Zanoyan currently divides his time between Southern California, Armenia and the Middle East.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.