Known as Shato (ie Chateau) Monolit, Ismayilli Wine´s Hajihatamli winery is a state of the art complex which aims to set new standards in Azerbaijani winemaking. Manager Elchin explained how his team had toured Europe visiting wine fairs to learn about the processes, realizing that simply resurrecting Soviet-style winemaking would be pointless in today´s interconnected world.
They visited wineries in France, Germany, and Italy looking for inspiration and eventually employed Moldovan wine specialist Gheorghe Arpentin to help them get the best possible results. This approach is already paying dividends - at the wine tasting salon of their co-owned Baku hotel (Monolit Plaza) we were proudly shown several of the accolades already won by the operation in its few years of operation - including a ´Wine of the Year´ nomination for their Alishan dry red at Yalta, 2010.
Around 360 hectares of vines spread across the territories of three local villages. Already the winery´s production - some 300,000 bottles - is virtual of Azerbaijan´s national consumption so unsurprisingly the focus is on exports to Russia and Belarus. The grapes of choice are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Georgian favorites Saperavi and Rkatsiteli, all grafted onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstock. There is also a test plot of archetypal native Medrese grapes. So far these have only produced a small batch of some 300 bottles, but management is happy with the experiment and plans to expand to make a quality wine that is more truly Azerbaijani. The equipment to do that, however, is certainly not local. The winery uses high tech French and Bulgarian vats and - unusually - has its own integrated bottling plant using empties laboriously transported all the way from Moldova. But what makes this plant unique in Azerbaijan is that it doubles as a tourist attraction.
- Transfer from Baku to Ismayilli
- Walking at the wine factory
- Visit grape garden & storage
- Wine tasting - 4 types
- Snacks with wine (for each person bottle of wine)
- Transfer from the winery to Baku
- English speaking driver/tour guide