As Georgian wine continues on the path towards what looks like its return to the Russian market, Armenian wine producers are expressing concern that Georgia's gain may come at their expense. Reports the Arminfo website:
Return of Georgian wines to the Russian market following embargo suspension may cut growth of export of Armenian wines to Russia, Avag Haroutiunyan, Head of the Union of Armenian Winemakers, told ArmInfo.
A threefold growth of export of Armenian wines to Russia was planned for the coming five years. Wine export from Armenia grew 60% in 2012 to 1.185 million liters versus 744,000 liters in 2011, with nearly 75% of sales being in Russia. A few years ago, export totaled 500,000 liters, Haroutiunyan said. Before the embargo on Georgian wines in Russia, 50-55 million bottles of Georgian wine were sold in that country annually, despite the fact that the production capacity of Georgian wineries is some 15-20 million bottles. This shows that counterfeit production was manufactured either in Georgia or in
Russia. Georgian wineries have raised significant investments in modernization over the last years and have greatly improved the quality of wines.
"Now, they will offer the best products in the Russia market. Georgian wines are now of higher quality than the Armenian ones, but the prices will be similar. Armenia will have to raise additional investments in modernization of wineries to sustain competition," Haroutiunyan said.
Armenia if best know, of course, for its cognac, but its wine industry has been taking steps in recent years to improve its quality and broaden its international appeal. In that sense, perhaps being forced out of the comfort zone of appealing to Russian tastes and into creating wines with a more international appeal might be a good thing for Armenian vintners.
This would not be the first time that steps taken by the Georgian wine industry have raised concern in Armenia. As previously reported on this blog, Georgia's successful effort to get the European Union to grant it the sole right to market its wine in Europe with the tagline "Georgia - The Cradle of Wine" was met with howls from Armenian winemakers, who, naturally, believe their country is the true cradle of wine.