Winemaker wishes weather was his only problem

Tue Oct 6, 2009 10:08am EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Most of the world's winemakers worry about the weather because great wine is made in the vineyard, but in Lebanon they worry about other things.

"Weather, if only I could worry about the weather. No, I don't worry about the weather. We are blessed with wonderful weather," said Sami Ghosn, 43.

Along with his brother, Ramzi, 44, in the early 1990s Ghosn reopened the family's Massaya vineyard in the Bekaa Valley where there is sunshine some 300 days a year.

The vineyard had been closed since 1975 when the Ghosn family, who are Lebanese Christians, fled at the start of the 15-year civil war. First they went to France and in 1984 to the United States.

They had refused several offers to sell the land, which is covered with a clay and limestone soil and lies between the mountains and the Mediterranean at more than 3,000 feet up.

"I knew I wanted to go back. It is beautiful," Ghosn said. "Massaya, by the way, does not refer to the messiah. It is the Arabic word for twilight and it's just so beautiful in the vineyard at the time of day."

Shortly after the political situation improved in the early 1990s Ghosn left a successful architectural career in Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a vintner in Lebanon, where wine has been made in the region since Phoenician times.

"You know we joke. You have New World wines. You have Old World wines. We have Ancient World wines," he said.   Continued...