Evaporation (mm / day) Gel Gel 146 131.4 246.2 326.4 384.9 341.4 317.4 148 Gel Gel 255.21
Nb of days of precipitation 15 18 10 4 2 0 0 0 2 6 8 17 82
Nb of days of Snow 15 14 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 43
Nb of days of ice 22 18 14 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 11 74
Nb of days > 30 ° 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Table 1, Zahle ombrothermic table, with relatively low precipitation and higher temperatures
Table 2, Daher el Baydar ombrothermic table, with relatively high precipitations and lower temperatures
Scientific studies concerning the area: A team of Lebanese winemakers want to create a system of
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This system established in France is for a specific product located
in a limited geographical area (CHAOUI), its soil and climate unit, its technical constraints and practices
are to be observed. For Lebanon, it seems difficult to apply such legislation because vinified grapes in
the same cave usually come from very different regions: Bekaa, Mount Lebanon…
The Lebanese wine is changing: introduction of new varieties, different ways of growing the grapes are
compared to other models in order to find the best adequacies in the production of quality wine. It
would be harmful to end this dynamic. In addition, the proliferation of Controlled Origin Denominations
on the French model results in a lack of clarity for the international consumer. The creation of various
names within a small wine country like Lebanon will accentuate the problem of recognition of the
product on the international market.
Rootstock: The use of a rootstock is indispensable in the fight against phylloxera. Furthermore
considering the high risk of chlorosis in a large part of the Lebanese soil and the lack of rainfall during
the vegetative cycle of the vine to the choice of the rootstock should generally be directed towards
those supporting active high levels of limestone and drought resistant (ROBY, 2003). Because of the
strong daily hot weather, it is interesting to use rootstocks delaying the vegetative cycle of the vine to
slow the rate of maturation of grape berries and get more aromatic grapes.
Local nurseries offer grafted plants welded table grapes and wine grapes. The rootstock used is very
predominantly “41B” associated with local varieties of table grapes and the grape varieties most in
demand for wine grapes. The vines produced in Lebanon are much cheaper than imported ones, but
their quality is lower. The rootstock “41B” represents about 80% of the champagne region vineyards and
it is particularly represented in the Bekaa region (Midi, 2003). It is resistant to drought, so it is used in
the Baalbek region of the Bekaa, and at the same time, appreciates humidity, like in the humid mid-
sections of the Bekaa and the regions surrounding the Litani river.
Viticulture practices (BEL, 2009):
Pruning: In the Bekaa, we only have two types of pruning, the first one is “en gobelet” (fig.4) which
is a traditional mode of pruning used widely in the Bekaa and all over Lebanon, and the second one
is “guyot”, (fig.5) which is getting more popular in the Bekaa vineyard, because of international
standards, but because of its high cost, it holds nowadays only 39% of the total vineyards. However,
the Bekaa is losing slowly its traditional Mediterranean viticultural landscape. (BEL, 2009).
Planting density: for the “gobelet” mode, the planting density is traditionally 1600 plant per hectare.
It is left intentionally low to allow all plants to get enough water without generating any
competition. However, in modern viticulture, the number has risen to 3200 plants per hectare, it has
doubled because of the rising in real estate prices, but controlled via pruning. As for the “guyot”
pruning, the planting density is 5000 plants per hectare.
Irrigation: winegrowers make sure not to irrigate their plants, but only in the first two years of the
plant, to assure adequate growing and healthy plants.
Groundwork: Heavy machinery is used to plow the land.
Disease: Blackwood disease, oidium, esca, are found in the Bekaa valley.
Figure 4, Vineyards "en gobelet" in Kefraya, Bekaa west
Figure 5, Vineyards "en guyot" in Kefraya
Oenological practices: The Sauvignon blanc is usually blended with other grape varieties, such as
chardonnay, semillon and viogner, Only one vineyard (Domaine wardy) has a 100% sauvignon blanc
single varietal in the Bekaa. Because of the hot weather, especially in summer, all grapes including
Sauvignon reach their full maturity in the beginning of September. No special wine making techniques
are recorded; it follows the major worldwide trends like in Bordeaux. However, the Bekaa valley
traditionally made sweet red wines destined for religious purposes (Ksara, 2014) and lately, sweet white
wines have been introduced in the market such as the “Moscatel” of chateau Ksara, and “pinot gris” of
The Vineyards: The vineyards area in Lebanon is 10.609 ha with 70% for “table grapes” and the equivalent of 3.183 ha for wine production. Bekaa Valley contains 69% of the total area (Table 3). The vineyards are managed by three types of managers:
Independent winegrowers1. (Mostly located in West Bekaa and Zahle)
Independent winegrowers, members of a cooperative (Côteaux d’Heliopolis)
Wine producers2. (Ksara, Kefraya…)
Types of wines in the “appellation” (Wehbe): Lebanon has joined the OIV (Office International de la Vigne et du Vin) on 10/04/1995 at the initiative of the leading wine producers. The OIV is an intergovernmental institution which goals is to inform its members about proper measures to take into account regarding consumers and producers, to contribute to the international harmonization of practices and standards, to improve the development and marketing of wine products. The OIV also contribute to the harmonization and adaptation of regulations by its members particularly the respect the AOC guidelines in order to evaluate the characteristics of wine qualities. The AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) concept is not officially implemented in Lebanon; instead they have the geographical indication (GI) which is used as a protection tool to designate products by the name of their place of production. GI protection is ranked among the rights of intellectual property that contain particular copyrights, invention patents, industrial designs and trademarks. As the trademark, geographical indication is a sealed sign on specific products to distinguish them from others. Besides Sauvignon blanc, winegrowers in Lebanon use other type of varieties such as Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Vionier, Chardonnay for white wine and Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Temprenilo for red wine.
1 By winegrowers we mean the people who cultivate vineyards but do not produce wine.
2 By wine producers we mean people who produce wine. They might be winegrowers at the same time but not
Table 3, Presence of Sauvignon Blanc in all of the wineries of the Bekaa. (Rozelier, Zawaq, 2012)
Domain’s name Estate Production/ Bottles
Yied Sauvignon Blanc (Monocepage)
Blending with other varieties
Zahle Château Khoury 15 ha 50 000 20 20-35 hl/ha --no -- no
Château Ksara 70+270 under lease
2 700 000 45 55-75 hl/ha -- no Yes
Coteaux du Liban
6+10 ha under lease
60 000 100 40 hl/ha -- no -- no
Domaine de Baal
4.5 ha 12 000 30 18 hl/ ha -- no Yes
35+10 ha under lease
250 000 65 16-45 hl/ha Yes Yes
Cave Kouroum 200 ha 700 000 40 35-40 hl/ha -- no Yes
Château Ka 70 150 000 40 30-35 hl/ha -- no Yes
55 ha 50 000 15 60 hl/ha -- no Yes
150+210 ha (under lease)
2 000 000 33 40hl/ha -- no yes
10 + 5 under lease
12 000 -- 10 hl/ha -- no -- no
Chateau St. Thomas
30 + 35 under lease
450 000 65 30-55 hl/ha -- no Yes
Domaine de Mas Helios
8 ha 3 000 -- -- -- no -- no
Domaine des Tourelles
20 + 20 under lease
150 000 35 45-50 hl/ha -- no -- no
Heritage 5 + 50 ha under lease
60 -- -- no Yes
Massaya 17 + 23 ha under lease
300 000 85 40-60 hl/ha -- no Yes
Château Barka 7 ha 5 000 -- -- -- no Yes
250 ha 6 000 Cooperation
The specification is one of the most important elements to become a GI (Geographical Indication). It’s a
document developed by producers who undertake to observe the entire period of protection. The
a- product name b- the demarcation of the geographical area c- the product description and characteristics d- description of the method of obtaining the product e the appointment of a supervisor who controls the product conforms to the specifications f- elements relating to packaging and labeling g- the requirements prescribed by the special local regulations.
Market Information (Antoun, 2014): Wine industry in the Bekaa is nationally oriented. Consumption of
the wines produced locally does not exceed 2% to 3%, of its total production which accounts for 50% of
the Lebanese market. The national orientation of wine activity is mainly related to wine activities
conducted outside the Bekaa such as printing houses and label makers, wine producers take part of
exhibitions on the national level to promote their vintage. Exportation is about 50% of local production
(figure 6). Top export markets in order of market share are: UK 32%, France 17%, US 14%, Canada 5%,
UAE 5%, Germany 4%, Belgium 4%.
Landscape value (MOUKARZEL, 2012): The value of the Lebanese viticulture landscape is in the contrast of topography at first place and the variety of soil types throughout the Bekaa. Slopes create the need of terraces which generates new types of vertical landscapes, sometimes very specific for viticulture, whereas in the flatlands, terraces are absent and replaced by parallel lines and a horizontal perspective. As for the soil types, the bright brownish soils on slopes indicates the presence of rock alteration, these soils are rich in minerals and low in organic matter, whereas the darker redder soils in flatlands indicates the richness of organic matter and a fertile soil, in a general way, there is a degradation of color proportionally to the altitude. In the Bekaa valley, there is no “official” wine itinerary, tourists visit the wineries depending on individual efforts of tour operators and the domains themselves, unfortunately, collective work and unity is shy in the Bekaa valley, on the contrary of their neighbors in the north of Lebanon. Some of these domains host many events, such as Ksara which is very popular for marital events due to its remarkable landscape and beauty. In terms of enotourism, there is a great potential for the Bekaa valley because of its attractive landscape and its proximity to major cities and other activities.
Strengths and Weaknesses (MOUKARZEL, 2012):
Suitable climate no clear equation between soil/climate/grape
Diversified soil Unsuitable varieties for the climate
Modernization, technical improvement Dominated by non-Mediterranean varieties
Competition and developing consumer Wine style that copies other international styles
Popular concept of “Vins de garages” Recent revival, no identity
Potential viticulture lands, that are not yet exploited Undeveloped viticulture lands
Soil rich in limestone (limestone represents 3% of the total earth’s surface)
No clear laws
Surprising topography , contrasts plain / mountain producers rely on personal efforts
Figure 6, wine export in Lebanon
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CHAOUI, Z. E. (n.d.). AOC Liban. vice-président de l’Union vinicole du Liban, et PDG de Château Ksara.
Darwish, T. (1999). Mapping of natural resources using remote sensing for soil studies. National Forum
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Deford, J. F. (1973). A River Called Rebel. Saudi Aramco World, 12-21.
Dubertret, L. (1955). Carte geologique du Liban. Republique Libanaise, ministere des travaux publics.
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