The earliest known winery in the world, unearthed in a cave in Armenia, dates from about 6,100 years ago. One of the oldest modern-day enterprises in Armenia, Voskevaz Winery LLC, has been taking the best traditions of vintners beyond Armenia to new markets. Based on a strategic development plan put together with the support of EU4Business, two key goals are increasing sales 21% and expanding exports 18%.
More than just a winery
Established in 1932, the Voskevaz Winery specialized in a variety of wines and brandy. Ten years ago, its new management team began to invest heavily in modernizing production and rebranding the product.
“All of our wines, without exception, reflect the true nature of Armenia,” says Voskevaz Director Levon Nurazyan. “Our wines are produced only from local grape varieties. To age the wine, we use rare, high-quality Armenian oak barrels.”
Today, the Voskevaz Winery produces 17 types of wines with plans to increase its range of products. Voskevaz produces red and white, dry, semisweet, fortified, and vintage wines, selling about 350,000 bottles annually of this “magical, spontaneous gift of nature.”
“Voskevaz Winery plays a unique role in the Armenian wine industry,” says Nurazyan. More recently, the company has expanded its operations on the Armenian market, not only selling wine, but also running wine tours at the Voskevaz Wine plant.
The winery decided to build a new cellar and wine-testing area to increase awareness about Voskevaz wines and cultivate wine-drinking traditions. For several years, new Italian production equipment has helped meet international standards, as the company’s main strategy now is to focus on exports.
“We are working on developing new export markets while maintaining traditional markets like Russia, the EU, the UK, and Germany,” says Nurazyan.
Voskevaz’s plans were and remain ambitious: to increase exports by entering new markets, to expand local sales through new marketing and PR campaigns, to purchase new wine-making equipment, to expand its own distribution department, and more.
EU4Business support means more sales and new markets
“To bring all those plans to life, it was essential for us to have a strategic development plan for expanding markets and production,” says Voskevaz General Manager Diana Sargsyan.
The EBRD Advice for Small Businesses in Armenia program, funded by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative, came along just in time, with its local consultant. The consultancy helped with strategic planning, especially product expansion, new product and investment plan development, expansion into strategic foreign markets, and financial modeling.
“We were able to undertake a comprehensive study of current and potential markets, draw up a strategic plan, andrun a feasibility study for introducing new products,” explains Nurazyan.
Based on its new strategic plan,Voskevaz increased its production capacities with about US $1 million in capital investment: a new production building, a warehouse expansion, and equipment.
Nurazyan adds that, to support these plans, a restaurant was also built in 2018 in a tourist hub. With EU4Business support, Voskevaz sales increased by 21%,annual turnover grew 22%, and the company saw exports jump 18%.
“Sometimes we just need a suggestion, the right support at the right time, or a bit of professional advice, and results prove that EU4Business is a very desirable partner for the future,” says Nurazyan.