This post is not to encourage nor extol the virtues of wine consumption.It is simply to mention that Lebanon is a wine–producing country and has been for 6000 years. In Ashkelon (Israel), a group of archeologists found in 1999 the remains of two Phoenician vessels: In their cellars hundreds of wine decanters; these were being shipped from Phoenicia (as Lebanon was known in antiquity) to Egypt when the vessels sank in a storm, 2750 years ago. In Cana, in South Lebanon, is the location of Christ’s miracle when water was transformed into wine; and inBaalbeck, the temple of Bacchus (God of wine) which was built in Roman times (two centuries after Christ) is another reminder of how prevalent was viticulture in Lebanon. After the Muslim conquests however, production of wine was discouraged and wine was replaced by arak, an anise-scented drink, similar to ouzo. Finally in 1847, Jesuit priests started producing their own wines and in the process discovered caves dug up in rocks dating back to Roman times; and in the last twenty years, investors started exploring Lebanese territory in search of land to establish wineries.
According to Jennifer Hugett, an English geologist, a combination of several factors make Lebanon an ideal spot for wine production such as 300 days of nice weather per year and a rocky soil. Most of the wine produced in Lebanon comes from the Bekaa valley, but in the last few years other areas have started to produce as well. In fact, it appears that a lot of Lebanese expats are returning to their villages and establishing wineries. Most of these are small operations producing a few thousand bottles per year. There are about 29 wineries in the country, the main producers and exporters of wine in Lebanon remaining Ksara (over 2 million bottles per year)and Kefraya (same amount).
Source: Le Commerce du Levant, no.5599, Décembre 2009.
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