7,000-year-old winemaking region uncorked
North American Wine & Spirit Importers, LLC (NAWSI) has launched Wine from Lebanon, introducing 15 innovative winemakers and four unique indigenous grapes from one of the oldest and finest wine growing regions in the world to the state of Texas. With a thirst for exploring new wine regions and consuming 60.3 million gallons of wine a year, Texas ranks 4th in the U.S. for wine consumption.
Wine from Lebanon features 15 winemakers including several female-owned and managed wineries, winemakers under 40 years old and winemakers utilizing indigenous grapes like Obaideh, Merwah, Meksassi and Sobbagiegh. Interested wholesalers, retailers and restaurants can attend tasting events to try the wine firsthand. NAWSI is seeking distribution for the Wine from Lebanon program.
Sam A. Jaoude, who was born in Lebanon and a managing partner of NAWSI, saw this as an opportunity years ago while operating his MadeNLebanon exporting business. “Lebanon’s winemaking history stretches as far back to the Phoenicians and Cana where Jesus turned water into wine,” explained Jaoude. “We have incredible terroir for growing grapes across the entire country and we felt it was finally time to share our story with the rest of the world,” said Jaoude.
Jaoude found a kindred spirit in his now business partner Constance McDerby, co-founder of Food & Vine Time Productions, producers of consumer lifestyle events with a wine and food focus for more than 20 years. McDerby said, “Lebanon enjoys a vast variety of wine production that is unique both in taste and culture. We’re excited to introduce this wine collection to consumers with a thirst for new and exciting tastes.”
From the mountain peaks of the Batroun region to the fertile Bekaa Valley to the Jezzine Caza in South Lebanon, winemakers have been producing wine for generations. While there is truly a wine renaissance in progress, this is a story as old as civilization itself. 7,000 years ago, the Lebanese people’s ancestors—the seafaring Phoenicians, domesticated grapes, perfected viticulture and spread it throughout the Mediterranean between 2700 B.C. and 300 B.C. Wine was an important trading item, but evidence of winemaking had been scant until the recent discovery of a 2,600-year-old winepress unearthed at Tell el-Burak, five miles south of the Lebanese coastal city of Sidon.
Today’s Lebanese winemakers are as unique as the grapes they craft. Generational traditions are carried on while new winemakers look to the future trying their hand at enticing new tastes like Pet-Nat Gold from Couvent Rouge, the first Lebanese sparkling wine. Domaine Wardy, a winery dating back to 1881 and started by a young widow, is run by the fourth generation of winemakers. Mersel is committed to sustainable farming supporting local farmers and shepherding herds of desert goats on their property, the symbol of the winery.
Chateau St. Thomas focuses on cultivating local varietals including its Obeidy St. Thomas, featuring the Obadiah grape. Named one of the World’s best vineyards in 2021 is Chateau Cana, a father-daughter operation. Atibaia, which focuses its efforts on small yields, sits atop one of the oldest villages in Lebanon where a feudal castle stronghold was built during the Crusades.
Programs like this enable emerging countries to gain a stronghold into the giant wine business. Thouraya Karam, from Karam Wines said, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to market our wines in Texas as we believe this program will promote Lebanon as a wine producing country and create access to new markets with huge untapped potential for Lebanese wine sales.”
A trade tasting event will be held on September 20 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Texas Wine School in Houston. Interested wholesalers, retailers and restaurants can attend. Contact email@example.com or visit winefromlebanon.com for information.
Source: Wine from Lebanon