The Garage Winemaker
Why did you decide to make wine?
It has to do with several things happening here in Azerbaijan at the moment. On the one hand we have this wine boom going on, which the government is supporting. On the other hand, when you look closely you see that this relates mainly to big companies, each one having about 300, 150, 200 hectares – huge holdings which began to produce wine a long time ago.
The small sector and so-called “garage winemaking,” a very fashionable term in the world of winemaking at the moment, isn’t there, although I believe that large-scale winemaking and good wine is based on garage winemaking. Why? Because garage winemaking allows you to experiment more with the grape; it allows you to manipulate, innovate, and based on that some interesting methods and wines appear.
It began because firstly I wanted to drink quality wine and secondly, I wanted to drink interesting wine, using grape types that weren’t here before. And thirdly, I want to make organic wines.
Why is now a good time for garage winemaking in Azerbaijan?
I think it’s connected to people’s desire to eat organic products now. Before, in the Soviet period and post-Soviet period, very few people thought about this, but now people are really beginning to understand what quality is, what organic is, and trying to eat healthily. Therefore, I’m trying to make organic wine, firstly because I will drink it, but also because I think it will catch on in this regard.
What kind of wines are you producing?
People are not really drinking wine here yet. So, for them to start drinking wine, there must be an interest in it and to generate an interest you need to start with something interesting. Our grapes are already being used and there are French grapes already, but we don’t have Italian grapes yet. We are using four sorts –Sangiovese, Aglianico, Colorino and Nero d’Avola. At the moment blending is very popular because you can get different tastes, but given that people here are just beginning to drink wine we want to start with mono varieties. Also, because we’ve got limited resources, we’re going to just make dry red wines.
What do you think is the future of Azerbaijani wine?
I think there are great opportunities for making high-quality wines in Azerbaijan. Firstly, we have a lot of climate zones allowing us to grow the majority of fruits in Azerbaijan – we have a tropical zone, subtropical zone, we have a temperate climate. So, winemaking will work for us because we have all the natural resources to grow it. Secondly, we have more and more intellectual people and that’s very important– wine demands intellect; wine demands understanding. And also, tourism has been growing here in Azerbaijan over the last few years, and any tourist coming to Azerbaijan now wants local wine.