samedi 29 octobre 2016

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (1): Narek and his family

As we enter Nrnadzor, we first meet Narek, his dad, brother and son. They are gathering and selecting pomegranates in their orchard. We discuss pomegranate cultivars, pruning, the economic difficulties of pomegranate growers, distance between the bushes (they practice 3 m x 3 m), ... They grow two cultivars; Spitak, sweet and yellow, and Gyulasha red/armenian. The latter is fabulous, with some acidity but also with a very special gooseberry flavor.

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (2): Khachik's donkey

As Narek's dad hears about my passion for donkeys, he calls his neighbour Khachik. We discover his 26 years old donkey grazing in the middle of his pomegranate orchard, apparently with no harm to the bushes at all. Khachik says that his donkey does not like the flavor of pomegranate leaves. Elsewhere in Nrnadzor, people let their small cows graze in their pomegranate orchards too. This is also why Narek's dad tells me that mulching each tree is not an option for them. Khachik achieved the synthesis of pomegranate and donkeys! And Levon seems to become a fan of donkeys too...

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (3): Gugo

Gugo's orchard is planted in a 2 x 4 mode. He has at least 5 cultivars, Gyulasha Syrian, Syrianka, Spitak, Gyulasha Armenian, Gyulasha wild. The Syrian ones are delicious, sweet-sour with soft seeds. One of them is red. But the most stunning one is Gyulasha Armenia again, with its fantastic gooseberry flavour. It is large, hard seeded. Gugo tells us that it is the best for wine.

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (4): Alissa and her aunt

A bit further up in the village, Alissa is helping her aunt and another person to select the pomegranates that they harvested. A true forest atmosphere in this orchard.

They have beautiful Spitak (white/yellow outside and red inside).

The most amazing ones are those with a very special skin (a sign of their greater sweetness?). Real jewels!

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (5): post-harvest selection

Some people select their fruits in the orchards. And others do so indoor. Abundance!

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate orchards (6): the harvesters

It is high season in Nrnadzor. The houses are full of temporary workers from all over Armenia who are hired for the harvest. We meet them in Alik's orchard and they are no doubt in a great mood...

In Nrnadzor's pomegranate gardens (7): Alik and Mkrtich

Alik and Mkrtich, two brothers, are definitely passionate about pomegranate too! Alik shows us the various parts of his orchard on this super busy day. And then Mkrtich invites us to try his pomegranate wine, prepared with a mix of sweet sour and sweet poms. Coffee and Persimons are also on the table. Mkrtich shows us some pictures taken in the mountains behind with nothing less than bezoar ibex and snow leopard...

As the chicken are going to sleep, we have to say goodbye. An unforgettable day...

samedi 22 octobre 2016

On our way to Nrnadzor, along the Iranian border

After a fresh and peaceful night and a bit of lavash bread, we leave Meghri in the morning for Nrnadzor. If you are both an Arte + 7 aficionado and a pomegranate amateur, you have probably seen this film. We are impatient to meet Alik and Mugush. The dust track is in a bad condition. On our way, we follow the course of the Arax river, situated on the Iranian side, driving along the fence on the Armenian side. Two nice villages on the other side, benefiting from the water pumped in the Arax river. One of them is Qulan, with its flat roofs and its mosque.