While we were at our son’s house having pizza, he was showing me one of his collecting hobbies. He enjoys collecting curious decanters of liquors, liqueurs and wines. I have leaded crystal decanters, but his are more unique. There are skulls, guns, cars and swords. I am not sure if he has tried the various vodkas, mezcal, tequila and other beverages from these decanters. They remind me of the old ceramic wine decanters of the Fifties and Sixties, that I wrote about a few years ago. Two of the bottles were from Casa Vento winery from Italy. The decanter with the hunter and his dog is Casa Vento Chianti, but there is no black cockerel on the bottle. The other of a Falstaffian individual sitting on a couple of wine barrels, while he holds another wine barrel above his head with the tap open is a Casa Vento Vino Santo Duca D’Asti. Both of these bottles have no vintage years on the labels, so I can presume that the wine was bulk table wines made for immediate drinking, and the decanters were more costly than the wine. Both of these wines were imported by Vento Wine Import Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, and I wonder if this was a vertical structure of the winery at one time. I did a search of the import company and the last listing I could find was 1972. There is a Casa Vento Winery in Italy at the present, but I could not verify, if this is the same winery on the decanters.
What really caught my eye as I was looking at these curios was that they were from the Proshyan Brandy Factory of Yerevan, Armenia and the “bottles” contained their Semi-Dry Pomegranate wine. Pomegranate wines, and the fruit itself have long been a staple product in Armenia. Armenia has been considered one of the cradles of civilization and they have long been known for producing beer, wine, brandy and later even Cognac. With all of the grapes grown in Armenia, brandy evolved in the Nineteenth Century and brought Armenia fame. After the Genocide, and then Armenia becoming Armenia SSR under the Communists, all the brandy distilleries were not allowed to produce their own product, but they could sell their product to the Yerevan Brandy Company, because the Socialists or Communists were very non-understanding and totally against the concept when it came to the Free Market. When the Soviet Union collapsed, some individuals were able to grasp the concept of individualism, capitalism and pride of craftmanship.
The Proshyan Brandy Factory was originally located in Proshyan, just outside of Yerevan, since 1885. The Socialists or Communists had all but shut down the facility over the years and it was bought in 1995. It soon became the largest Brandy and Cognac producer and reviving an almost lost industry and brought additional pride to the struggling nation, after they achieved their independence from the Soviet Union. They have since branched out into wine, fruit wine, liqueur, vodka and canned fruit. They have also gone into the kitsch market with the novelty decanters, which I am sure are probably a decent selling item for souvenirs and keepsakes. The odds are that my son, will never open the decanters and drink the wine, which is probably good, because I would venture to say that the wine is bulk wine made for immediate consumption and not for cellaring, but they are quaint and add décor to his family room along with his print of Mrs. DeVito’s painting of the man with the two dogs.