The Dr. Heger wine estate was established in 1935 by the rural doctor, Dr. Max Heger. Max Heger's grandson Joachim Heger is considered today as one of the finest producers of red wine in Germany.
Recently Joachim Heger was invited to Armenia by Koor Winery and agreed to talk to Mediamax.
- Have you ever heard about Armenian wines before coming to Armenia or did you have a chance to taste them?
- Probably I have tasted Armenian wine while being somewhere, because I attend a lot of “blind tastings”. Of course, I heard about Armenian wine, because it has such a history. Many grape varieties come from Caucasus area. So, I knew but I was very uninformed. I think there’s a lack of information in the wine world about the wines of Armenia.
- You were in Areni region and visited the Koor Winery. What are your impressions?
- I was very impressed about the beauty of the area. The soil is very special in Areni. You have a large stone part in the soil and the conditions are very good for deep, characteristic wines.
- During the Soviet times Armenia was well-known for its brandy. In the last 5-6 years, we are witnessing that Armenian wines become more popular in Armenia, as does wine culture. In Soviet times people drank vodka more, and now we are coming back to our “roots”. Do you think the phenomenon of local wine becoming popular locally can contribute to its international recognition?
- Of course, first you need to have supporters among your own people. When you go to Australia or New Zealand, the “new wine countries”, they show you what they produced already in the airport, and they are very proud of it.
There is a big competition on international market, but on the other hand, people are very interested in knowing about new things. I think the Armenian wine chances are very good as they have high potential to have character, which is very important.
- Today the quality of product is not enough, you have to be very good at marketing and sales.
- Yes, of course. First you have the good product, then you start travelling and building up a market. You have to travel and you to make placement of your wine in places like London, New York, maybe Paris. Even the French and Italians sometimes open their minds to new products, but I think the main markets where you have trends are London and New York. And Germany! Germany is very open for any wines that are new in the world.
- Given the size of Armenia, it is obvious that that the vineyards and production volumes cannot grow all the time. What will be your advice?
- I was told you have 17,000ha, so it’s not a big wine country. But you don’t have to be a big wine country if you have special, high quality wines and good prices. It’s not necessary to have big volumes if you’re just so good.
Many people want something rare, they want something that’s not available everywhere, so that could be a big chance. I don’t know how big the possibility is to grow in vineyards, but if there are not many vineyards, you have to be exclusive.
- My impression is that if you treat winemaking only as a business, you will never be successful. It should also be a part of your lifestyle. Am I right or is it a combination of two?
- I think that all winemakers who are successful, are ambitious. Nobody does it for the money. Of course, when the winery is successful, investors might come and say they want to take part in the success, but usually, it starts with a very ambitious, passionate winemaker and of course, the people who grow the grapes. They also have to have the passion to produce something very extraordinary and special. You can’t do this job just because you want to make a lot of money. It won’t function. Either you’re passionate and you really do everything to get the best possible product out of this or you just stay in the average line.
Ara Tadevosyan talked to Joachim Heger