Damariscotta businesses Bred in the Bone, Damariscotta River Grill, and Lincoln Theater collaborated in a special dinner and wine event on Thursday, Dec. 21, to celebrate a documentary made about an Armenian father-daughter team making wine.
The documentary, “Cup of Salvation,” the fourth film in the “Somm” series, directed by Jason Wise, follows Aimee Keushguerian and her father Vahe, along their journey of reviving the grapes and wines of their Armenian homeland. Their production facility, WineWorks, is in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.
Aimee Keushguerian, who attended Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta and Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, said wine was a critical component of Armenian culture until the 19th century when the nation was absorbed by the Soviet Union.
During this time, the Soviet Union directed Armenian’s to abandon their longstanding vineyards and start production on brandy, according to Keushguerian, favoring grapes better suited for that production.
Prior to the showing of the documentary at Lincoln Theater, Armenian-inspired dinners were served at both the Damariscotta River Grill and Bred and the Bone, where diners were able to enjoy cuisine that paired with wines from the Keushguerians’ vineyard.
Tim Beal, co-owner of Damariscotta River Grill, said that when Christina Belknap, the organizer of the event and executive director of Lincoln Theater, reached out about participating in the event, it was an easy call.
“It was a no brainer,” Beal said.
Keushguerian, who was in attendance at Bred in the Bone with family in friends, including her mother, Andrea Keushguerian, a Damariscotta Select Board member, spoke about each of the wines being served with dinner.
Wines included Zulal Areni, a medium bodied red wine with bright acidity; Zulal Voskehat, a dry, light to medium body white wine using Aremenia’s signature white wine grape; Keush Origins, an invigorating and fresh brut; Keush Rose, an extra brut rose aged for 22 months; and Keush Ultra, a Blanc de Noirs aged for at least 36 months.
After diners had their fill, they crossed Main Street in Damariscotta to Lincoln Theater for the documentary, where the wines served at dinner were also available for purchase.
Belknap said the event was a success and that aside from learning about a local wine connection, she got to see the community come together.
“The best part of this, aside from learning about wine and the connection with the community, was that we has such great partnership with so many businesses right here in Damariscotta,” Belknap said.
Aimee Keushguerian, who moved to Maine from Italy in 2008, said she learned a lot from living in Maine, but that community was one of the most important lessons.
And while she and her father have had to try an reinvigorate Armenia’s post-Soviet infrastructure, the lesson of living in Maine are ones she’s held close.
“Community,” Keushguerian said.” “You really can’t build a nation without a community behind you.”
Jenny Begin, co-owner of event sponsor Salt Bay Trading Co., said her kids went to school with Keushguerian, and these types of events really bring the community together.
“This is the sort of event that makes me so excited to live in this town,” Begin said.