- Ten of the UK’s leading wine writers visit two of Lebanon’s oldest wineries with a map and a glass of wine on the sofa
- Four-hour total cultural immersion circumvents global lockdown
- “Covid has forced us to think outside the box,” says Chateau Ksara
Bekaa Valley: Chateau Ksara, partnering with fellow Bekaa Valley producer, Domaine des Tourelles, overcame the global lockdown by creating a virtual four-hour wine press trip to Lebanon for the UK media, inviting an A-list of wine writers, including three Masters of Wine, to the Bekaa Valley where they explored the region’s famous terroir and visited the historic winery, including the 2km network of Roman caves where the wines are still aged. Château Ksara, which was established in 1857 by the Jesuits. It is Lebanon’s oldest producer.
The “trip” ended with a tasting of five wines from each winery. As well as the wines, each guest was sent a hard copy map of the country and some local ingredients. The organisers ever created a Spotify playlist of Lebanese music to get everyone in the mood.
“We were supposed to hold a press trip this summer, but of course our plans changed,” said Rachel Davey, Chateau Ksara’s UK brand ambassador. “Fortunately, Lebanon still has cachet, so it wasn’t difficult to find takers, especially as everyone’s at home! The Covid crisis has forced us to think outside the box and thankfully the owners had the vision to go for it.”
Domianes des Tourelles winemaker and co-owner Faouzi Issa gave a guided tour of the vineyards and explained the Lebanese viticultural practices, while Chateau Ksara co-owner George Sara spoke from the winery, outlining the challenges of selling wine internationally from one of the world’s smallest wine producing nations.
“Being over 160 years old, we have beautiful story to tell and our wines are unique and diverse,” he said. “Lebanon only makes 10 million bottles a year, which may sound a lot but it is nothing compared to say Italy or France which make around 4 billion bottles each year. But we believe small is beautiful and quality is our hallmark.”
Moderating the Q&A session and giving an overview of the country and its wine history was Michael Karam, author of numerous books on Lebanese wine. “It was a brilliant idea and I was more than happy to help out,” he said, speaking from his home in the UK. “People forget that Lebanon has had a relationship with the vine stretching back to the dawn of time and that the Phoenicians were the first wine merchants.”