Note: The 2023 Areni Wine Festival has been canceled.
Each year, travelers and locals wait in anticipation for one of the biggest wine festivals in Armenia, and one of the biggest in the entire region. That festival is the Areni Wine Festival!
There are many festivals in Armenia like the Yerevan Wine Days, but the Areni Wine Festival is probably the most popular and the largest one in the country.
I mean, what is cooler than a wine festival in the home of the world’s oldest known winery?
I had previously visited the Areni Wine Festival, but I didn’t have a chance to fully experience it and was only there for a couple of hours.
This year, I got to experience it in its full glory and try some of the best wines in Armenia. It was an absolute blast and one of the country’s best celebrations, hands-down!
This article tells about my experience in Areni village at the Areni Wine Festival where I will give you all the details about what to expect, how to visit, and why you should put it on your Armenia itinerary if you’re in the country when it takes place!
Location and Areni Festival History
Areni village is located in Vayots Dzor as you’re headed south toward the Syunik province of Armenia. It’s insanely popular for wine, being home to Indigenous grape varieties like Areni Noir, Kharji, and others.
The village is many centuries old and the legends say that Noah’s generations planted the grapes where the village exists today.
But what puts Areni on the wine map is not only the ancient wine history and the festival but also the recently discovered world’s oldest winery and leather shoe in the Areni-1 Cave right by the village at the entrance of the Noravank church road.
For more than a decade in Areni village, the Areni Wine Festival has been taking place.
It is held at the beginning of October and you will find everyone from village locals to travelers from all around the world coming to it!
The main goal of the festival (and the team organizing it) is to show the potential and quality of the Armenia wine-making industry.
It highlights everything from homemade wines to mass producers in an effort to develop the wine industry in the country.
You’ll find more than 200 types of wines and more than 100 homemade wines that are traditionally made in Areni and are available for visitors to try.
Also at the festival, you’ll find traditional Khorovats (Armenian BBQ) cooked on the street alongside local cheese vendors, and many other delicious foods ready to be tried.
Areni Wine Festival – What to Expect
The Areni Wine festival takes place right in the middle of Areni village and occupies probably half of the village during the event!
It is surrounded by massive red and yellow rocks, mountain ranges, a medieval church, and a river. It really is one of the best settings for any festival that I’ve been to!
Each year, my friends and other travelers fill me in about new things because it is always expanding and new vendors come in. It is not just a ‘one-time’ experience… it is a festival that has something new to offer each year.
This time, I visited with some of my foreign friends and they were equally as impressed with the festival as I was!
It is always so cool seeing a festival with such humble beginnings become such a sensation, even with non-Armenians!
Right on the highway to Tatev, you will see a massive wine barrel and that marks the entrance to the village and the festival. Grab your camera or phone; you will need it!
The festival is divided into sections; the first part is the homemade wine and food area where the locals of the region and the village itself are presenting their top homemade wines, and delicious BBQ, Jingalov Hats (vegan), and more.
The next area is the ceremony section for dance events and stage performances where you can see masses of people dancing, playing, and drinking.
Note that the festival is kid-friendly (there are even new additions like small playgrounds to keep the kids entertained)!
The last area contained the local wine-making companies where you can find wineries from all over the country. Many were household names amongst Armenians while others were new players!
During the festival, there are several exciting competitions and things taking place such as:
- Opening ceremony
- Armenian wine-makers fair
- Public and professional wine tasting
- Exhibition-fair of traditional dishes, made by the best Armenian restaurants
- Business meetings
- National music, dances, games, theatrical performances
- Art program, participation of art amateur groups
- “Armenia in your eyes” best wine label contest
- “Gold Keg” prize for the best wine among the top wine-producers
- Homemade wine producers contest
- The best souvenir from the festival
The wine was flowing, the music was blasting, and the people were dancing. There is not much else that can make an event so perfect, in my opinion!
Time and Tickets
The Areni Wine Festival happens each year at the beginning of October. In 2023, it will be held on October 7 from 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM.
There is no entrance fee so you can enter for free but to try the brands’ wines, you will need to buy special glasses that hang from your neck from the selling booth at the event.
The cost of the glass and neck harness is only 3500 AMD and you’ll have a chance to taste wine from all the vendors.
Not bad at all – it really is a great way to work your way through some of Armenia’s most famous wines (and some lesser-known ones deserving of the attention too).
How to Get to Areni
There is public transportation going to Yegegnadzor and Goris from Yerevan from the Intertown Bus Station behind the Sasuntsi Davit metro station. You can catch one of these and pay approximately 1200 AMD.
Or, you can take a taxi or even better, a shared one as I did with my friends, and the cost for that (much faster ride) will be approximately 12000 AMD.
Areni Wine Festival is worth visiting if you love wine, wonderful nature, and celebrating with a lot of social others!
Visiting the Areni Wine Festival is a fantastic thing to do during autumn in Armenia!
More Vayots Dzor Travel Guides
- Old Martiros Guesthouse
- Old Martiros Hike
- Adventure with Arpa Protected Landscape
- Under the Walnut Tree review
- A Trip to Momik Wines
- How to visit Noravank Monastery
- Areni-1 Cave
- Anapat Canyon
**This article was produced with the support of My Armenia, a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the Smithsonian Institution, or the United States Government.