Toast Chateau Ksara’s Traditional Wine Making in Lebanon

ksara chateau wine lebanonJesuit brothers at the Ksara wine press in 1910: Lebanon’s oldest wine growing domain

Following the footsteps of a wine trading tradition started by Phoenicians, modern Lebanese wine-making re-starts in 1857 when French Jesuit missionaries at Ksara (today the site of Château Ksara) introduced new viticulture and viniculture methods as well as new vines, from French-governed Algeria. Sixty years later the French civil and military administration that governed Lebanon between the wars created unprecedented demand for wine until 1975. This golden age for wine making in Lebanon subsequently declined when the country descended into a 15-year civil war, however it managed to pick up momentum afterwards.

ksara chateau wine lebanon monks

Chateau Ksara in the Beqaa Valley has an incredible history: Ksara for example was the first place in the Middle East’s where an observatory was established as obsessive monks recorded rainfall and seismic activity.

The wine cellars are said to date back to the Roman period, situated in limestone bedrock in subterranean tunnels extending 2km, these were discovered by the Jesuits in 1898 and today bear silent witness to huge old bottles where the brothers kept their brandy (and probably drunk themselves silly).

Finally in 1973, the Jesuits sold the winery to a consortium of Lebanese businessmen after the Vatican encouraged the sale of all profitable activities. Today Chateau Ksara is the oldest and biggest wine producer in Lebanon  and the most visited winery, attracting some 70,000 visitors per year. It also produces the Middle East favorite – arak.

Here is a little clip showing the magical story behind the caves of Chateau Ksara.

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:: Chateau Ksara

About Linda Pappagallo

Linda's love for nature started when at the age of eight she discovered, with her dog, a magical river in the valley of a mountainous region in Lebanon. For four years Linda and her dog explored along the river, until one day she saw construction scrapers pushing rock boulders down the valley to make way for new construction sites. The rubble came crashing into the river destroying her little paradise, and her pathetic reaction was to shout at the mechanic monsters. Of course that was not enough to stop the destructive processes. As she continued to observe severe environmental degradation across the different places she lived in the Middle East and Africa, these terrible images remained impressed in her mind. However, environmental issues where not her first love. Her initial academic and career choices veered towards sustainable economic development, with particular interest in savings led microfinance schemes. Nevertheless, through experience, she soon realized a seemingly obvious but undervalued concept. While humans can somewhat defend themselves from the greed of other humans, nature cannot. Also nature, the environment, is the main “system” that humans depend on, not economics. These conclusions changed her path and she is now studying a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Energy and the Environment in New York. Her interests lie on ecosystems management: that is how to preserve the integrity of an Ecosystem while allowing for sustainable economic development, in particular in the Middle East and Africa.

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