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Created with EU support, ‘Ttenut’ Distillery in the Syunik village of Karahunj aims to become new ecotourism centre

In the village of Karahunj, Syunik marz, 5 kilometres from Goris, 40-year-old Irina Darbinyan has transformed the land belonging to her family into a tourism centre that is now known in the region as Ttenut.

More than 30 mulberry trees were planted on that 400-square-metre plot of land a long time ago, and this is the origin of the name Ttenut, from the Armenia tteni for mulberry tree. Tourists visiting Karahunj are given the opportunity to distil mulberry vodka themselves and take the product home with them.

I decided not to just to harvest mulberries in this beautiful area, I wanted to make it a platform for business. Besides the profit that I make, it also helps tackle some of the social issues faced by my fellow villagers. The villagers living around the distillery can sell the tourists eggs, milk, curds, and other agricultural products,” said Irina.

Irina Darbinyan managed to set up her business thanks to the “EU4Tourism: Outdoor adventures on the historic trails in Syunik” programme. The objective of the programme is to support the development of community initiatives and family businesses in Syunik marz. As part of the programme, the 300 km Legends Trail was launched in August 2019, connecting Goris and Kapan. Throughout its length, local residents have set up teahouses and B&Bs with EU support. The Legends Trail also goes past Irina’s Ttenut Distillery.

Along with the beauty of the area and the opportunity to discover some of the local history, Irina expects the Ttenut Distillery to turn Karahunj into a centre for ecotourism. And, in this sense and as a resident of Karahunj, she sees a particularly strong symbolism in the support provided by the EU.

I have always represented an organisation, but not a business, and I never thought of myself as someone that could run a business. This programme gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself and to develop. This programme was very important for my development, and gave me even more. I had many ideas and began to implement them step by step, telling my fellow villagers that the fruits and vegetables that they were growing had more value than what they would get by simply selling them at the market,” Irina Darbinyan said.