When one thinks of wine producing regions, seldom is Lebanon at the top of the list. Yet, few places in the world have a longer tradition of winemaking.
Wine has been made in Lebanon for at least 5,000 years since the Phoenicians - an ancient civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon - domesticated grapes.
The term wine is derived from a Phoenician word describing the fermentation of grapes. While the Phoenicians may not have invented the product itself, they perfected viticulture in the ancient world. Ever since, wine became a source of pride and wealth in the region.
Many factors come into play to make Lebanon an ideal land for winemaking. Its 250 to 300 days of sunshine a year provide a long growing season. The Bekaa Valley, where more than 80% of the Lebanese wine is produced, averages an altitude of 1000 m above sea level. It receives plenty of rain in the winter and plenty of sunshine in the summer, allowing perfect conditions for the grapes to ripen easily and evenly.
The hot summers allow the chosen varieties to take on a wonderful depth of fruit flavors, and even though delicious white wine is produced in the country, Lebanon is definitely renowned for its red wine.
Although the Bekaa Valley is home to most Lebanese wineries, more regions have become popular for winemaking. Among them is Batroun, the second largest wine region, Mount Lebanon and South Lebanon.
In the past few decades, Lebanese wine production has enjoyed somewhat of a Renaissance, with roughly ten million bottles of wine being produced, year-on-year, from Lebanon’s wineries. In 1998, there were fewer than ten wineries in Lebanon. Today, Lebanon counts more than 40 wineries including Chateau Ksara, the largest and oldest, and Domaine des Tourelles, the first to operate commercially.
The majority of Lebanese wine is exported to the UK, Germany, France and the US, where the receptive consumer bases have encouraged healthy growth in Lebanon's modern wine industry.