There has been ancient evidence dating back to the times of the ancient Romans which showed that vines were cultivated, and wine produced in Lebanon 2,000 years before Alexander the Great. In fact, Lebanon remains one of the world’s oldest wine production sites. The Phoenicians from Lebanon’s coastal regions spread viticulture and wine through the Mediterranean centuries ago, and even today, the country produces around 600,000 cases every year.
Traditionally, winemakers in Lebanon favour French grape varieties, especially Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsaut. The major wineries in the country have vineyards in the Beqaa Valley, and of them all, the biggest is Chateau Ksara which produces 70% of all the nation’s wines, specialising in roses and reds made from the Rhone grape varietals.
The second largest wine producer in Lebanon is Chaeteau Kefrava, but perhaps the most well known to western buyers is Chateau Musar, as its wines were internationally recognised at 1979’s Bristol Wine Fair, and for many years it remained to sole Lebanese wine which could be bought easily in the UK.
The Massava winery is a boutique operation which has had financial involvement from French wine dynasties resulting in its rapid success in the international market. This brand is bolstering up the leading position that Lebanon holds in the category of Ancient World wines.
Another Lebanese winery which is worthy of note is IXSIR, whose wine inspired the renowned wine critic, Jean-Marc Quarin to give it the top grade ever awarded to a wine from Lebanon.
The Lebanese wine industry exports more than half of its products primarily to the UK, the USA and France.