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Mery the Wine Lady

“A skilled sommelier doesn't merely listen to a guest; it's part of the puzzle, not the whole picture.”

In the enchanting backdrop of Armenian autumn, vividly painted across the courtyard of a modest southern Armenian winery, the graceful silhouette of Mery Mheryan, the local wine lady, emerges with a radiant smile. She warmly welcomes everyone, and proudly presents the production of her wines. “Isn't the magic of mid-fall enchanting here?" she opens, gracefully acknowledging the obvious beauty of the surrounding area. At just 19, Mery has discovered her passion and life's calling — she aspires to be a professional sommelier. This revelation unfolded during her enrollment in a transformative wine-making course, delivered by the USAID-funded Armenia Workforce Development Activity, iImplemented by EIF.

"Before the training, there were aspects I struggled with. A skilled sommelier doesn't merely listen to a guest; it's part of the puzzle, not the whole picture. We were taught to observe our guests from the moment they enter: What wine are they drawn to? Is this their first visit or are they seasoned diners? These cues help a sommelier discern their palate," she explains, her passion evident. "A good sommelier delicately opens the bottle before the guest, signifying its freshness and exclusive opening for them. Holding a bottle was my weak point, a flaw I overcame through the training. Another revelation was studying the scent from the cork, offering it to a seasoned diner who could discern the quality and age of the wine. Tasting and serving wine is truly an art," emphasizes Mari whose goal was to thrive and excel in winemaking through the training she underwent at Vayots Dzor Regional State College under the Armenia Workforce Development Activity.

Proudly asserting her place in the seemingly "male-dominated industry," Mery, through the program, has not only elevated her career but has also set her sights on a grander ambition. Her ultimate goal extends beyond personal success — she aspires to establish her own winemaking venture, which will not only create opportunities for local youth but, more significantly, will serve as an aspiration for other young people.

Launched in October 2021, Armenia Workforce Development Activity is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) and consortium partners, including the Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU) Foundation, Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) and Civitta Armenia. The Activity aims to equip 10,000 young people at the age of 15-29 in all provinces of Armenia with working skills, highly demanded in the labor market and ensure 7,000 have better employment opportunities in the fields of ICT/high-tech, agriculture and hospitality.


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