Château Ksara wine producer

Château Ksara
Founded by French Jesuit monks in 1857, Château Ksara is Lebanon’s oldest and largest winery. It claims to have produced Lebanon’s first dry red wine, as previously the tradition was for sweet wines produced from raisined grapes.  The monks introduced southern French red and white varieties to supplement the indigenous white Obaideh and Merweh.
 
At first production was for their own consumption and for communion wine, but the accidental discovery in 1898 of ancient, probably Roman tunnels, with constant humidity and year-round 13 to 15°C temperatures ideal for storing wine, kick-started what became a major business.  The exact details of the discovery have been lost to legend.  Ksara’s website carries an entertaining video dramatising at least three different versions of the story.
 
At about the same time the monastery acquired a large tract of excellent vineyard land higher up in the Bekaa as reparations from the Ottoman Empire for the murder of several priests.  During the First World War many local men fled to Ksara to avoid service in the Ottoman Army, and the monks put them to work connecting and lengthening the ancient cellars until there were six interconnected tunnels totalling two kilometres.
 
A papal decree in 1972 instructing religious communities to dispose of their commercial interests led to the sale of the wine business (by then producing over a million bottles annually) to a consortium of local businessmen in December of the following year.  Two years later the Civil War started, yet production continued even though the Cháteau itself was occupied by the Syrian army for 16 years.
 
In 1990, after the war, a change in management was reflected in a change of name from Caves de Ksara.  Much modernisation ensued, including the introduction of varietal wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, supplementing the established blends.  Today they produce 2.8 million bottles annually, of which 75% is red.
 
The discovery of the tunnels… perhaps.

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