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The founder and employees of the "Kataro" wine factory are among the thousands of people who lost everything due to the third Artsakh war of 2020. For them, the village of Togh, the old "Kataro", the wine festival, the vineyards and their houses have now become a memory.

Two years after the war, only the traditions of "Kataro", those who keep them, and the presence of those people together at the new address remain.

And in the future, their dreams and new peaks.


Two of the women working at the "Kataro" wine factory are wearing gloves, and two are not.

It has been two months since those wearing gloveshave come to the factory from the National Agrarian University of Armenia for practice, they still have four more months, they have not decided what they will do after that.

"A small factory, a family environment, that's why we chose Kataro," says future winemaker SatineHovakimyan, wearing a red rubber glove.

The truck, which was parked near the device through which the grapes first pass, is large. Up to 7 tons of grapes can be placed there. The procurement in the factory starts from this truck. Usually, one or two of the men get up, empty the grapes from the machine box by box onto the moving platform, on either side of which women stand two by two.

As soon as the device turns on, the first box of grapes is emptied from the truck, then immediately the second, third and so on. The women begin to clean the grapes.

"We take out the ones with fungi so that they don't cause disease. You can distinguish them with your eyes, they are bleached, smelly, and vinegary," says future winemaker SilvyLazaryan, whose glove is yellow and bright. No matter where you look at the factory, you will see the movement of his hands in yellow rubber gloves working with dark, black grapes.

It is also possible that there is a different type of grape than the Areni grape, they remove it so that it does not give the wine a taste, they explain to me, and one suddenly cries loudly: Stop! Stop! Stop!

The engine of the device is silent; the men start to remove the extra grapes by hand. It can be seen that people work faster, their rhythm is enough to get the job done, but the machine is not.

Grapes are eaten during these short breaks.

"In the first days of harvesting, we eat more grapes, now we are full," says Lyudmila, the eldest daughter of the founder of the "Kataro" wine factory, GrigoriAvetisyan, and gives me the best bunch for me to try.

They are sweet, and the sweeter they are, the higher the alcohol, they teach me, and I ask what they mainly talk about when they start working.

"On various topics," laugh the future doctor Lyudmila and Mrs. Sveta, without whom they simply cannot imagine the factory, "for example, one day we ask each other detective questions, discuss, talk about religion, Einstein's theory of relativity."

And when knowledge is not enough, Lyudmila's grandfather joins the conversation and gives answers to all questions. But today there are few conversations and grandfather is not at the factory.

Okay, talk aside, but wine and grapes love a song, wine is a song in itself, I say and ask what is the working playlist in their factory. After all, wine has energy, it takes speech, music and even color.

They sing when Lyudmila's brother, who is a professional singer, is at the factory. They start with Armenian folk and end with jazz.

Then it is heard a second time. "Stop! Stop! Stop!" Again the same pause, again the same action. Already the second truck is approaching in a day. It's getting dark little by little...




This year's white wine of "Kataro" is in container number 12.

"Please, this wine is made fromVoskehattypeofgrapes, it became wine five days ago," AndranikManvelyan, chief winemaker of Kataro factory, begins the tasting.

And inside the factory there are huge tin containers, where different types of grapes are fermented and become "Kataro" wine. It seems that the number of those huge containers has increased. "No," says Giro, GrigoriAvetisyan, "I ordered exactly the same quantity and shape." They are exactly the same as in Togh."

And just like in Togh, the wine tasting begins. All the wines of "Kataro" had their own unique and already familiar taste, such that you would not confuse it with any other wine. After taking the first sip of the first wine, I realized that not only the address and location of the factory is new, but also the wine itself.

"When we were in Togh, we thought that the best white wine is obtained from "Voskehat" grapes in Aghavnadzor village of VayotsDzor," says Giro.

The five-day-old white "Kataro" is kind of cloudy, at first glance it looks like lemonade, but when you bring the glass closer, you immediately feel the taste. I am experienced here, I don't drink the wine to the end, I know there are new tastings ahead.

There are water and wine drainage networks on the floor of the factory, I empty the remaining white wine of my glass. Next is the red young wine.

"The fermentation has just started, it's Areni," says Andranik.

You need to be even more careful in case of young wine. The first sip of this seems to wash away the slight bitterness of the preceding white.

"We started the tasting in the opposite direction. "Imagine," says Andranik, "they start building the house from the foundation, from the soil, make a project, then dig a hole, raise the walls and then reach the roof." We started from the roof: the white was already ready, the young wine was just starting to ferment, and now at the end, for "Rose", I squeeze juice from Areni, ecologically clean, we will try that."

"Rose" from Areni, I ask, remembering that before the war, "Kataro" "Rose" was from Artsakh’sKhndoghni.

"We used to make it from Khndoghni and Voskehat," Giro recalls, "now we can't afford to get KhndoghniRosé, as we don't have enough of them" We only keep Khndnoghni for red."

In the summer of 2020, Kataro's "Rose" had just entered the market, and for me, who does not prefer "Rose", it had become the best taste.

I take the first sip of the new "Rose" already in the laboratory room, at the table. While drinking, I understand that I am not trying to recognize, feel the new taste, but I am comparing it with the previous tastes of "Kataro", which were so familiar.

And I don't see the new factory outside of that comparison. I compare Giro in his new factory with the Giro who was in Togh. I compare the wines and understand that they are good, but different.




Giro of "Kataro" is still unknown in Dzoraghbyur.

After the war, I went to Giro's factory for the second time.

The factory, the address of which, it turns out, I don't know. It's strange and somehow doesn't fit into the "normal" that I know. As I set off, I remember that I have to check the address. Still not impressed.

- Dzoraghbyur village, Lusavorutyan St., 22 Building, - Giro answers very briefly, clearly and quickly. Then we both say at the same time. "It's okay, we'll learn this new address by heart."

We meet Giro at the big gates of the new "Kataro" wine factory, just like it was in Togh.

And just like in Togh, our journey begins with a new factory.

"Metaks” factory used to be here. I wondered for a long time whether I would be able to come to my senses or not. But it worked."

When entering the factory, it was as if I met someone whom I know very well, I haven't seen for a thousand years and it seems to me that he has changed so much that I won't recognize him. It was the same feeling.

After the war, when we met Giro, we talked about him, "Kataro" and the traditions of Artsakh, I asked if they would continue if the address of the factory changed. Then he said that he did not know.

I didn't know either, but all those who were with Giro in Togh also work in the new "Kataro". They are the ones who keep the traditions.

From the large hall of the factory inTogh, we went straight and then to the left, a little further and then through the door on the left we went to the underground hall of barrels. The "special" guests of Giro had name barrels there, with whatever they wanted written on them. I had mine, too. The last time, in mid-September 2020, when I was there, I also had a nominal barrel with a wine glass and a radio painted on it and written: "Your taste with our voice."

Last time, there was no barrel hall in the new factory. I say still because Giro had a surprise.

"Just don't draw radio like last time," says Giro. And I don't even ask why.

I touch some of the barrels with my hand and choose mine. I don't know what to write, then I understand that the important thing is not what I wrote, but the moment and the memories that will be with me regardless of everything. I think and write for a long time. “With faith to return and congratulations on a new place. Let there be “Kataro” everywhere."

Ani Minasyan

Photos by

Vaghinak Ghazaryan