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In the Newsroom

April 29, 2009
Winemakers thrive in the hills of eastern Lebanon

The mountainous region of eastern Lebanon has a rich history spanning thousands of years — and equally rich land that makes it a fertile location for some of the country’s top vineyards. Lebanon produces rich red wines, crisp whites and smooth, fruity rosés.

Worldfocus special correspondent Kristen Gillespie ventures through Lebanon’s vineyards.

Below, she blogs about her experience in the field.

From the Field

Let’s be up front about it: this story is unapologetically biased. I love Lebanese wine.

Putting together this story wasn’t exactly a hardship assignment. There are so many excellent producers in Lebanon, but I chose Chateau Belle-Vue because Naji and Jill Boutros represent a new generation of winemakers. It’s not just about the product — they are creating meaningful social change in their village while producing organically grown, award-winning wines. Jill made sure we had tasted plenty of samples from the oak barrels, which is where the wine from each specific grape variety lies for two years until it is blended to create a new vintage.

Chateau Ksara is one of Lebanon’s oldest producers, and aside from the consistent quality of their wines, the miles of mysterious, Roman-era subterranean tunnels fuel speculation as to what they were used for. Ksara graciously opened their doors, and their wine cellars, for us to film.

Another top producer not to be missed is Chateau Kefraya, which produces a reliably crisp Blanc de Blanc for about $6. For travelers to Lebanon, it’s available, along with many others, at Beirut’s airport.

Sahtain! (Cheers!)

– Kristen Gillespie

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Comments

18 comments

#18

Nice Job Naji & Jill…This way you are putting Lebanon and especially Bhamdoun on the Eco-Tourism world map…it makes me Proud, and say… proud to be Lebanese.
Congratulations.

#17

Nice piece Kristen. I gave a bottle of Belle Vue in Nov 08 to a french client in Pau who is known to touch nothing but French wine, and people told me I made a mistake. I ran into him again in the US as your show was airing – he came to me and said his “wife” would like to know where she can get more Belle Vue wine… !! But then he admitted it was he who wanted the extra bottles…
Great wine Naji and Jill !!!

#16

No wine cellar is complete without a case or two of Chateau Belle-Vue. The pride of Lebanon and wine making is in each bottle. Bravo!

#15

How come Kristen Gillespie singled out Ksara and Kefraya, and omitted Chateau Musar as one of the top producers in Lebanon? Personally, I think the ‘Chateau’ of the Musar group is one of the best, although increasingly on the pricey side whereas years ago it was guite a bargain for its value, i.e. before Robert Parker of the U.S. and Hugh Johnson of the U.K. discovered it

#14

You can find the two brands “Ksara” and “Kefraya” at various Lebanese restaurants across the nation. One that I know of (and love) is called “Aladdin’s Eatery”, it is very popular in Ohio and is spreading along the east cost. I personally live in Raleigh, NC and we had an “Aladdin’s” open here last fall, they carry Lebanese wine (Ksara & Kefraya) and beer (Almaza, you gotta try it!).
I haven’t heard of any Lebanese wine being sold at grocery or liquor stores.

Great reporting piece, thank you for exposing a side of Lebanon that makes us proud to be Lebanese.

#13

I work for a wine company by the name of Kobrand, which it imports quality wine from specific countries that are famous for their wine, I heard from a Portugese wine expert, and some other people speak about how good Lebanese wine is!would love to try it.

#12

Bacchus himself will adore the taste & enjoy the Lebanese wine, how come the chateau belle vue.

#11

Good unbiased reporting by Kristin Gillespie.
Most Lebanese wines command added-value on the export markets. Perhaps it is the sunny skies of Lebanon, the good earth, the right know-how, the certified cultivars with the right clones, the dedicated knowledgeable technicians, but unmistakenly the wine is loaded with the warmth and enthusiasm of these Lebanese entrepreneurs. Every wine seems to tell a story; and who does not love ‘stories’.

#10

Jill & Naji,
I’ll never forget tasting your wonderful wine. It was like an angel crying on my tongue! You were so hospitable to Doug and me on our trip to Lebenon. Please visit us if you are in the Philadelphia area.

#9

congrats jill and naji, we are certain the quality of the wine is exceeded only by the quality of the two of you who make it possible.

#8

Interesting comment, Ed.

Nice job, Kristen!

#7

So interesting to hear about and international winery, I can only hope someday when I travel to the area I will have an opportunity to do a winetasting such as the one viewed within this story. I have become much more interested in the processes of a winery after learning how many Texas wineries cropped up in the hill country as it will indeed take many years to develop the rich grapes to make wonderful Texas wines from the rich terrain and soil of the Texas Hill Country. Thanks for this special story! Interesting!

#6

Bravo! and Many Thanks to you Kristen for giving us a view of this exceptional world of Lebanese wine. We enthusiastically applaud Jill, Naji, and anyone involved positively in their journey and look forward to our first taste of what we know will be a wine not to be forgotten.

#5

Thank you WLIW21 for showing this short clip about Lebanese wine! Finally something about Lebanon on American television!

#4

We’ve lovingly followed the development of the Boutros’ work from afar, and eagerly await the US arrival of the fruits of their labor. Rumor has it that a few bottles have been surreptitously delivered from Germany by our my brother-in-law. We can’t wait!

#3

I’ve been one of the lucky few to visit and taste the wine of Chateau Belle-Vue in the UK. I now live in the US and wait with desperation for a US export shipment. The wine is fantastic!!!

#2

having spent 16 yrs. overseas , a few in mid east states , it is painful to see the lack of understanding for both sides of the delema in the mid east, israel having the advantage on every issue that is proposed,the american jew has acheived control in american policy ,aided not in the least by the holocost legesey that has proved to be an everlasting quid pro quoe for jews as gods choosen people,self styled !

#1

what are names of some of the wine, made in Lebenon, that is sold in the U.S.A.

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