Developments in Lebanon’s wine sector. Reaping what is sown

October 9, 2019

The successes of Lebanese wine – many of which have won international awards or received high ratings from renowned wine critics – along with the growth of the industry has made those who dabble in winemaking, or have a passion for vino, realize its potential as a business opportunity. One such person is Ziad Ammar, a mechanical engineer who tells Executive he has always loved wine. In 2013, he started planting a vineyard intending to produce wine as a hobby at a small scale. This developed into a more serious enterprise the following year when he bought a 1million meter-squared section of land in the mountains overlooking Baalbek at an altitude of 1,1550 meters — the high altitude and limestone soil in the area are ideal conditions for winemaking, according to Ammar. As such, Chateau Trois Collines (which translates into the three hills in reference to the location of the vineyard) was born with its first vintage released into the market in late 2018. While the vineyards are located in the northeastern Bekaa hills, the winery itself is in Ain Dara, Dahr el- Baidar; the grapes are transported from the vineyards to the winery in refrigerated trucks. The winery is still under construction, but when it is done, Ammar says it will stretch over 3,200-meter squares and have a 5 hectare vineyard next to it. So far, 400,000 square meters of the land have been planted with vines, with the target of planting land set at 450,000 bottles of wine as an end target, says Ammar. The remaining space in the vineyards will be used for a guesthouse – which should be operational by the end of 2019— and a small restaurant.

Chateau Trois Collines wines are certified organic by Italian organic certifying body, the Instituto Mediterraneo di Certificazione, and as such, no pesticides are used in planting, according to Ammar. The Vineyard is also sustainable, he says, explaining that the power used to irrigate is solar-based. There are eight vintages of Chateau Trois Collines in the market, selling at an average of $18. Ammar says they will soon start to export, while locally, Chateau Trois Collines can be found in select restaurants and speciality grocery stores.

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