Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Lebanese wines are not usually the variety that people think of when they think of the best wines in the world. In all honesty, most people’s thoughts probably pop right over to France or even Italy, as both countries have some of the most prolific vineyards and wineries in the world and both countries are renowned for the quality and superiority of their wines. But the reality is that Lebanon is actually one of the oldest producers of wines in the world, with a history of wine production stretching back millenia. The majority of Lebanese wines are produced in the region known as Beqaa (Bekaa) Valley. Because Lebanon receives over 300 days of sunlight a year, it has one of the longest growing seasons for grapes.
There are a few major producers of wine in the area, and they include Chateaux Musar, Ksara, Kefraya, and Massaya as well as dozens of other wineries all across the country.
Here is a list of the most popular Lebanese wine brands you can find at your local Middle Eastern market, and online. However, there are over 50 Lebanese wineries in the country, many of which are sold internationally.
Lebanese Wine - Chateau Musar
Founded: 1930 by Gaston Hochar - Bekaa Valley
About: The first of these fine wineries would be Chateau Musar, which is located in Ghazir, Lebanon. The winery grows its grapes in the Beqaa Valley, and the winery was founded in the year 1930, when the founder, Gaston Hochar returned from Bordeaux. The winery found prominence after their winery was chosen as “the discovery of the fair” at the Bristol Wine Fair of 1979. The winery produces several top-notch wines which include the Chateau Musar Red, White, and Rose. They also make the Hochar Pere et. Fils Red, and the line called Musar Jeune, which includes a Red, White, and Rose, and the Chateau Musar Arack, which is fermented four times a year. The company’s website can be found here, and their social media includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
A history of Chateau Musar and it's founder, Gaston Hochar.
Lebanese Wine - Chateau Ksara
Founded: 1857 by Jesuit Priests - Bekaa Valley
About: The next winery is Chateau Ksara, which was originally founded in 1857 by Jesuit priests, but was acquired by a consortium of entrepreneurs in 1973, who sought to perpetuate the tradition of producing fine wines in the region. Wine has been produced in the area for years because of the ideal climate and area for the growing of grapes above ground. Below ground, the winery stores its wine in natural limestone caves that occur in the area, making for the perfect storage area to age wines. The winery produces a wide selection of wines, and these include: Le Souverain, Moscatel, Gris de Gris, Rose de Ksara, Sunset, Blanc de L’Observatoire, Blanc de Blancs, Chardonnay, Cuvee de Printemps, Le Pireure, Reserve de Couvent, Chateau Rouge, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cuvee du Troisieme Millenaire. The company website can be found here, and their social media includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The origins of Chateau Ksara, a Jesuit story.
Lebanese Wine - Chateau Kefraya
Founded: 1951 by Michel de Bustros - West Bekaa Valley
About: Next, there is Chateau Kefraya, which began around the year 1951 when their first vines were planted in the region and were founded by Michel de Bustros. The winery was built on an artificial hill that had once been used by the ancient Romans to observe their troop movements from, and has since proven to be an ideal place for the production of wine quality grapes. The vineyards have remained in production despite the civil war that plagued the country, and today their wines can be found in over 40 different countries. The winery produces three different labels and one white spirit. The house label includes the Chateau Kefraya Red, White, and Rose. Then there is the Les Breteches label, which also includes a Red, White, and Rose. The Signature Wines have a variety that include Les Corteaux, Blanc de Blancs, and Myst. The sweet white and mistelle wines include Lacrima D’Oro and Nectar de Kefraya. And the white spirit they produce is the Arak de Kefraya. The company website can be found here. Their social media includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Lebanese Wine - Chateau Massaya
Founded: 1998 by Sami and Ramzi Ghosn - Faqra, Mount Lebanon
And finally, Chateau Massaya was established in 1998 by the brothers Sami and Ramzi Ghosn as part of a renaissance that helped to revive the wine industry in the area following the Lebanese civil war. Their most notable export is their Arak, which they strive to produce in a traditional manner. They have also opened another facility near Faqra in the summer of 2014. The winery produces a variety of excellent wines that capture the essence of the mission the brothers set out to accomplish by reestablishing their estate. The winery produces five wines which include Terrasses de Baalbeck, Massaya Cap Est, Massaya “le Colombier”, Massaya Blanc, and Massaya Rose. The company website can be found here. Their social media includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Lebanon has a unique history of wine production due as much to history as it is to geography. The land has a mild climate that experiences little rainfall throughout the year and a long, warm growing season makes it an ideal place to grow grapes. The soil is also of a perfect condition to do so. Lebanon has been wracked with civil war and unrest for decades, but at the end of the civil war in the 1990s, the area has experienced a reawakening that has brought the wines to the forefront of the international wine market. While these brands represent some of the finest of the region in Lebanon, these are by no means the only wineries in the area and the region truly produces some of the best wines in the world.
Books by Michael Karam
Lebanese author, journalist and wine consultant