AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Château Heritage
Wine region: Bekaa Valley
Standout points: Generous wine tour; sense of discovery; and the nearby ruins of Baalbek – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Winemaker: Dargham Touma
Wine style: Warm-climate whites, reds and rosés made with French varieties
Justified and ancient
The Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon may not be the first place one thinks of as a wine destination, but this fertile region some 30km east of Beirut happens to boast a 6,000-year-old winegrowing heritage. It’s also the site of a UNESCO-recognised Roman temple complex (including one to Bacchus, of course) and offers wine experiences with a sense of discovery that few regions can match.
That’s the spirit
Born of the Touma family’s success in arak production – arak being the anise spirit which is Lebanon’s national drink – Chateau Heritage provides one of the most homely, fun and generous wine tour offers in the Middle East. A typical visit may include a tour of both the old and the recently renovated cellars, a walk through the winemaking process, and an indulgent sampling of the 11 French-inspired wines in the Heritage portfolio.
Take a hike
The Heritage winery is located in the village of Kab-Elias, the environs of which provide a wealth of hiking opportunities and valuable historical monuments to explore – not least the UNESCO-recognised ancient ruins of Baalbek, known by the area’s ancient Roman occupiers as Heliopolis, in which the stunning edifice of Temple of Bacchus can be found.
Make yourself at home
Back at the winery, the Touma family offers the sort of warm, unpretentious hospitality that brings their customers back again and again. The on-site restaurant serves traditional, rural Lebanese foods ‘like grandmother used to make’, while a 12-room bed and breakfast is conveniently located within walking distance of the main winery, making Château Heritage the perfect base from which to discover the Bekaa Valley’s history-steeped pastoral landscape.