|Lived in||Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yerevan|
Repat Armenia article 1
From Florence, Italy | Moved in 2009
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, ‘Karas’ Project Manager and Semina Consulting Founder Vahe Keushguerian is actively involved in all things wine. After having grown up in a strong Armenian community, Vahe left Lebanon at age 19, right as the civil war was starting. He received a scholarship to study graphic design and foreign language in Italy. In 1980, he left Italy to continue his studies in Washington, D.C. He once again relocated to California, where he joined his family and worked as a wine merchant.
His interest in wine began in the 1990’s, when he lived in Tuscany, learning the Italian methods to cultivate grapes and produce wine. His first visit to Armenia was in 1997, where he observed the wine industry and wine culture. The following year Vahe bought a plot of land in Areni (Vayots Dzor region) where he planted grapes, visiting the site once or twice a year as time permitted. He initially attempted to start his business, but was met with adversity. Legal mishaps and ownership snafus made the process entirely difficult, however Vahe made sure to emphasis that one can overcome, “Quitting is not an option. Accept the challenges for what they are and adapt to the situation. There are opportunities here.”
Still fascinated by Armenia and its wine industry, Vahe made the move in 2009. He collaborated with Argentinean-Armenian Eduardo Eurnekian to start harvesting grapes through Eurnekian’s ‘Tierras de Armenia’ company. In 2010 the ‘Karas’ brand of wine (associated with Armavir Vineyards) successfully launched. The locally produced wine has been harvested since 2010, exporting to countries in Europe and North America. The supply of Karas wine is now trying to keep up with the increasing worldwide demand for Vahe’s high quality product. Currently he is the company’s project manager, overseeing marketing and distribution. Vahe’s company, Semina Consulting, is cooperating with a wine company in Artsakh, to further exemplify Armenia’s growing wine industry.
Keushguerian is involved in many other projects in Armenia, not leaving a moment to spare. He is working on village sustainability, ‘Wines of Armenia’ wine promotion, and even an eventual Yerevan marathon! His company, Semina Consulting, works to modernize wine-making equipment and further develop Armenia’s wine industry. Polyglot Vahe speaks five languages and added that “…the experiences that I collected abroad strengthen my potential to be a successful businessman in Armenia.”
As for advice and a personal statement, Vahe mentioned, “Many Diasporan Armenians come back with the dream of seeing Mt. Ararat every day. Armenia is more than that. It is a real country that has some real problems. It is important to separate business from benevolence. The inner desire to give back to the homeland won’t go anywhere; it is just absolutely critical from a business perspective to first make sure the company is sustainable. You will face challenges but you must remain resilient and adapt to the circumstances that may seem insurmountable.”
Vahe currently lives in Yerevan. He often travels to the United States to visit his wife, and his children, who are studying at universities. Of all of the wine industries Vahe has worked with, Armenia has been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.
Contributed by Ani Tramblian
Repat Armenia article 2
"Here we live a full 24/7 life: we are constantly busy with different activities, cultural events, friends’ visits… The day ends and yet another busy day awaits".
Vahe Keushguerian was born in Syria and raised in the strong Armenian community of Lebanon. At the age of 19 he moved to Italy to pursue his studies. Afterwards, he relocated to the United States, first to Washington, then to Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2009, after so many journeys, Vahe finally settled down in Armenia for good.
“In Italy I embarked on learning about local practices of vine cultivation and winemaking. When I visited Armenia in 1997 I was interested in observing the winemaking culture of the country. This visit became a turning point for me to establish a strong connection with Armenia, and I started to visit the country once or twice a year. I felt that this place is my final harbor after so many relocations. Those years also gave life to the dream of having a winemaking business in Armenia.
In 2009 I moved to Armenia with my wife and children to stay here for a year. We decided that it would be a good opportunity for our children to get to know the country and learn Armenian. The same year I started to collaborate with Argentinian-Armenian Eduardo Eurnekian through his project “Tierras de Armenia” which later initiated and developed the production of “Karas” brand of wines.
I ask myself whether I would like to be in another place now or if I would like to do another job? Without hesitation my answer is always “No”. My life in Armenia qualitatively differs from the ones I had in the USA or Italy. Here we live a full 24/7 life: we are constantly busy with different activities, cultural events, friends’ visits… The day ends and yet another busy day awaits.
These 3-4 years in Armenia also changed my way of thinking. You start to think beyond your personal frames, considering wider issues that are important in our daily lives, such as social and political matters and the Karabakh question.
In Armenia, besides my work, I am additionally involved in civic activities. For instance, I initiated the project of “Wines of Armenia” to promote the local production in the Armenian and international markets. I think the winemaking potential of Armenia is very big and should be properly promoted. Or, with a number of other repatriates, I enlisted as an observer at the local elections in Yerevan. Maybe we cannot improve things right now, but in the future certainly can.
If you relocate to so many countries, it means you are in search of something. Now I am certain to say that I found what I was searching for. If those many relocations were the price to be paid for, then it was worth it.”
Translated by Irena Grigoryan