Smithsonian Folklife Festival to explore Armenia’s winemaking traditions

In its 51st year, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which runs June 27-July 1 and July 4-8 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will explore “cultural heritage enterprise,” through the lens of winemaking in Armenia and human tower building and use of fire in Catalonia, DC Military Magazine reports.

“In both Armenia and Catalonia, there are deep and rich cultural bonds. Some are fragile and need tending. Others are robust. Both lead families and communities to look at the future in different ways,” said Sabrina Lynn Motley, the festival’s director.

“What’s amazing is that you can take one cultural activity and, from that, open up an entire world,” she added.

Home to the world’s earliest known winery, discovered eight years ago in a cave near the village of Areni, Armenia’s 6,000 year-old winemaking tradition was nearly snuffed out under Soviet rule. Fueled by that 2010 discovery, a new generation of vintners has set out to reclaim Armenia’s winemaking heritage. The country is experiencing a viticultural rebirth.

“There’s a real interest in revitalizing the wine industry,” said Motley. “Some are employing traditional practices while others are using cutting-edge technology. Either way, they are connected to this historic site. Also connected to the winemaking are food, music and song.”

The memories and emotions these traditions convey will ideally challenge visitors to explore their own notions of home while experiencing Armenian culture. “What do you value that gives you a sense of home and connects you to your family and future?” said Motley. “I hope people go home from the festival and explore their own cultural lives.”

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