Château Ksara is the oldest winery in Lebanon. Although a non-commercial venture when founded by Jesuit monks in 1857 (the reason Domaine des Tourelles can stake claim to the title ‘oldest commercial winery’ in Lebanon), their wine became a highly sought after staple (and thereby a financial success) during French governance between the end of the First World War and the country’s independence in 1942.
Despite concerns that independence might reduce wine’s popularity due to losing the French influence, Château Ksara’s growth continued until the civil war (1975 – 1990) took its toll, hampering supply to traditional markets. Nevertheless not a single harvest was missed, not even during the winery’s occupation by Syrian forces in 1981. Since the end of the war the relative ease with which today’s markets can be reached, together with new innovation and inward investment, have seen the winery blossom. (It is now in private hands after purchase from the Vatican in the seventies.)
The property makes almost half of all Lebanese wine (2.8 million of circa 6 million bottles) from 423 hectares of vines, of which 30% is owned by the winery and the rest bought from growers under contract.
It also has one of the widest ranges of wines, with 14 labels, and is the best known brand in Lebanon (though Château Musar can lay claim to being the best internationally recognised name, having focused on exports at the onset of the civil war).
Château Ksara’s Roman caves are a must-see for any visitor to the Bekaa. A unique and worthwhile addition to any tour, they weren’t discovered until 1898 and are now used for ageing a proportion of the winery’s output. More importantly, they serve as home for the company’s 71,000-bottle collection of museum vintages.