Wines in Lebanon

December 19, 2009  •  Category:


This post is not to encourage nor extol the virtues of wine consumption.It is simply to mention  that Lebanon is a wineproducing 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.


6 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Angie@Angie's Recipe says:

    I remember one of my customers brought me a bottle of wine from Lebanon. And it was really sensational.
    I must look out for some Lebanese wine when I visit wine stores.

  2. dana says:

    Nice post, Joumana. I hope your are enjoying your vacation. I am a big fine of Lebanese wine and of Chateau Musar in particular. It has won international awards and is known to wine lovers as a nice boutique wine.


  3. Fouad says:

    Hi Joumana. I know it’s not your intention to extol the virtues of wine consumption but after reading this entry, I wouldn’t mind finishing off a nice bottle of Musar or Ksara! Thanks for telling me about the Phoenician wine! Wow, they didn’t only drink it, they mass produced it! I love it. I also think they invented the salted pistachio nut hahaha.

  4. northshorewoman says:

    the one thing I missed out on was having some Lebanese wine when I was in Lebanon earlier this year! I had beer but I was on the hunt to taste some good wine, but it just didn’t happen. We drove through the Bekaa Valley to Baalbek, but only picked up sfiha (which the small village beside Baalbek is famous for) and watermelon and pumpkin seeds…. Baalbek, however, preceeded the Romans. As conquerers are apt to do, they built their temples on the ancient sacred site, a pagan sacred site where Baal-Haddad was venerated. It was called Baalbek (Lord of the Bekaa) before the Romans came. Underneath the Roman temples was an ancient altar and amethyst beads.

    I hope to go back this summer. And this time I will find some wine!

  5. cmiranda says:

    Very intresting post.One would never think of associating wine with Lebanon.

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