A second Armenian dinner will be held Oct. 1 at Sanford restaurant, honoring chef-owner Justin Aprahamian's family's heritage.

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Sanford restaurant will host an Armenian dinner on two consecutive nights. (Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

An Armenian dinner planned by Sanford restaurant proved to be so popular that it sold out, and chef-owner Justin Aprahamian has added a second night for the same dinner.

The four-course meal with pairings, which honors Aprahamian’s family heritage, will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Armenia is one of the oldest wine-producing regions of the world, dating back at least 6,000 years, according to a restaurant promotion, which added: “Some even claim it is the birthplace of wine-making and viticulture.”

However, to find Armenian wines to serve with these special dinners required the help of the Armenian consulate in Chicago. According to Aprahamian, no one he checked with was carrying Armenian wines, at least not any that they knew of.

“The consulate really helped almost go backwards through the wineries in Armenia to find out where we could start having conversations,” he said. 

Honorary consul Oscar Tatosian made those connections for Aprahamian. Though  Armenia is indeed a very old wine-producing land, Tatosian said in a phone interview, the industry lagged under Soviet rule. Under its centralized rule, Moscow directed the nearby Republic of Georgia to produce wines and Armenia to focus on cognac and brandy.

That's changing now, said Tatosian, whose job it is to promote trade and commerce with Armenia in a five-state region. In one year, from 2017 to 2018, wine exports from Armenia increased 50%, and another significant increase is expected this year. Armenian wines are unique, he said, because of the grape varieties that thrive in the volcanic soil. 

Within Armenia is Mount Ararat, where it is said that Noah planted the first grape vines after landing his ark there following the flood.

That said, Armenian brandy, which will be served with dessert at Sanford, is also something special. According to Tatosian, Winston Churchill enjoyed Armenian brandy throughout his life.

The dinner costs $95 a person, tax and gratuity not included. Reception and snack are at 6 p.m., with dinner at 6:30. Space is limited; reservations are available by calling the restaurant at (414) 276-9608.

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