Wine Renaissance in Lebanon
Lebanon is known for it’s exquisite Alamaza beer and Arak, but did you know that it is also considered among the oldest sites in wine production worldwide?
‘For a country as small as ours, we have so many good wines and the Lebanese populace should become aware of the promise our land holds’ – Thouraya Karam
In the past decade, Lebanon has been experiencing a renaissance in its wine culture, thus today competition has increased and there are currently 40 wineries dispersed in the North all the way down to the South. But the most popular region is the ‘Bekaa Valley’, where 90% of Lebanon’s wine is produced there due to its hotspot for agriculture.
Our wine culture roots back to the Phoenicians, an ancient civilization, known for it’s strong culture of travel and trade. They have contributed thoroughly in the development of our Mediterreanean civilization, and opened borders between our neighboring countries.
I have prepared a list of 4 wineries worth visiting:
1- AURORA WINERY
Location : Rachkidde, Batroun, North Lebanon
Aurora is a boutique, a family mountain wine, that has been growing over the years. The Geara family used to produce their own Arak, vinegar, alcohol…. but only started making wine in 2006. Dr. Fadi Geara, started making 4,000 wine bottles out of passion and as a gesture for family and friends. Little did he know that his passion would one day turn into a full time job for family and villagers. Since then, the production has increased up to 10,000 bottles per year. It’s still a pretty small number, but then again we think in terms of ‘quality over quantity’.
Aurora Visits: They offer winery tours, bbq events for groups ( upon reservation), and in the process of preparing picnic baskets for people who wish to have a picnic in the vineyards.
Rechkede Visits: There are archeological sites worth visiting as well as beautiful waterfalls. You can find convents to visit and great byzantine churches.
2- KARAM WINE
Location : Jezzine, South of Lebanon
3- CHAUTEAU KSARA
Location: Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Chateau Ksara is the oldest, biggest, and most visited winery in Lebanon. It all started in 1857 when the Jesuit priests discoverd an ideal place to grow grapes and produce wine in the Bekaa Valley for the holy communion. During the Ottoman time they could have developed well the production, but there was a conflict between the french and ottomans. During the war, the Jesuits offered their caves to shelter families who did not wish to join the Turkish army during World War I.
The caves were Ksara’s biggest assets due to their constant humditiy and temperature for storing wine back when there was no air conditioning. In 1972, the Vatican asked sell all commercial activities. Therefore, they decided to sell it to business men right on time before the war started in 1975 and they were affected, again . In 1990, a new board of shareholders was assigned. Today, Ksara is remodilizing and remains the leader through all the harsh years it has survived.
(Reference : Youtube with Zafer Chaoui)
Kefraya Visits: They offer tour packages like watching a video about the history of KSARA. Then, they take you on a tour in their caves and to the wine-tasting area. You can also enjoy a meal there, they have a salad bar as well as charcuterie plates.
Zahle Visits: After your tour, you can visit Naher el Berdawne or even Our Lady Of Zahle-Bekaa.
4- CHATEAU KEFRAYA
Location: West Bekaa, Lebanon
Chateau Kefraya is the second largerst winery in Lebanon that exports worldide. It is owned by the Bostrous family as well as politican Walid Jumblatt.
Kefraya visits: You can go on a tour in a truck that takes you up the mountain where you can overlook the whole vineyard from the top. I did it during sunset and it was just breathtaking. They also have wine-tasting tours as well as buffet’s a la carte on Sundays!
West Bekaa Visits: Head down to Mashghara and check bouharit el Qaroon. You can go on a tour in a boat or even a speed boat. You can even ride horses on the road. Mashgara was a touristic spot in the past, but now it’s just calm there. PS: They have really good frogs there !
Bouhayrit el Qaroun `
Kefraya Vineyard Tour
Kefraya from the top