Winemaking in Lebanon
Our story goes back all the way to 1550 BCE, when our ancestors the Phoenicians established the trading culture that connected the coastline of today’s Lebanon with the whole world.
In addition to spreading their alphabets and trading their famous purple dye, the “traders in purple” as the Greeks and Romans used to call them, traded wine. Big terracotta jars were specially produced in pottery kilns in Tyre to transport wine to the world.
Lebanon is among the oldest site in wine production in the world. Today we continue this legacy, with the same passion that the Phoenicians had centuries ago, exporting to the world best quality wine from the land of the cedars.
At Mersel Wine, we wanted to embed our culture with our wines. Lebanese people are warm and hospitable, they open their hearts and homes and welcome those around them. We wanted to create wines that fit with the Lebanese character, wines that are for everyone to enjoy, and wines that help our local farmers.
Our name 'Mersel Wine' comes from the region Maksar Mersel, which is the highest viticulture region in Lebanon, located between the Cedars and Ainata El Arz at an altitude ranging between 2,000 and 2,400m. We also have vineyards in Ainata in the Bekaa Valley, Dimane and Bcharre in Wadi Qannoubine, and Bousit in Northern Lebanon.
Our philosophy is to keep it simple. Our wines are made naturally, with very little or no sulfites. Our wines are unfiltered and unfined using organic farming methods, resulting in simple fermented wine.
Mersel Wine is committed to producing high-quality wines and spirits that are not mainstream in the Lebanese market. We strive to produce wine with diverse tastes and methods using natural and environmentally friendly methods. We are committed to planting and maintaining our vineyards in an environmentally friendly manner so that every bottle can be savoured and enjoyed.
Meet Our Winemaker
Eddie the winemaker at Mersel Wine was also one of the winemakers at Couvent Rouge. He holds a degree in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, California.
For anyone that knows and speaks to Eddie, you will know that making wine is not a hobby or job, it is a deep-rooted passion. He is passionate about winemaking, as well as preserving and reviving the land of our ancestors and the winemaking techniques used many, many years ago.
Eddie wanted to make wine that is not mainstream in Lebanon. Being born and raised in Australia, he doesn't speak French and didn't want to associate Mersel with the French influence in winemaking. He just wanted to make some f%kn good wine. His passion is to develop wine using local Lebanese indigenous grape varieties but something not common locally. Mersel Wine is the first to develop a Piquette and PetNat and he has been dabbling with skin-contact wines since 2016.
Eddie is a father of 3 and sorry ladies he is off the market (and yes his wife wrote this)...lol :)
About Our Vineyards
Location: Zgharta district, North Lebanon
Grape Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bousit is an area famous for indigenous grape varieties. The soil is very rich in limestone and it sits on a peak in Northern Lebanon that overlooks the sea. Its proximity to the sea adds some humidity and moisture to the vines, and also the cool sea breeze helps in preserving the acidity of the grapes.
WADI ANNOUBINE REGION
Location: Bsharri district, North Lebanon
Soil: Sandy, Volcanic, Limestone
Grape Varieties: Merwah, Sabbaghieh and Maghdouche
Wadi Qannoubine is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wadi is arabic for “valley”, surrounded by historic villages, it’s minutes from ski resorts and the famous Cedars of God. The vineyards have not been tendered for years due to war, immigration and land mines. Wadi Qannoubine is a typical Mediterranean Alpine region with cool summers and cold winters. It has a maritime climate in the coastal areas with cool night-time breezes that keep natural acids high.
MAKSAR MERSEL REGION
Location: Northern Bekaa, Ainata-Cedars region
Soil: Limestone, Clay
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cinsault, Viognier
One of the most unique viticulture regions in the world. This terrain was inhabited by Cedar and Juniper forests and it was a haven for the Nubian Ibex. Geographically, to the east, is the Temple of Baalbek, and to the west, the Cedars of Lebanon, which has the oldest cedar trees in the world. The climate is a combination of alpine and continental, with snow-blanketed rigid terrain in winter. Mersel has gravel limestone and clay vineyards on alluvial plains, encircled with Juniper trees and the odd cannabis plantations. There is an abundance of sun in summer; cool nights with over 20°C of diurnal temperature variation. It is considered to be the Lebanese Mendoza. The unfortunate reality of global warming has allowed us to explore this region, a quest that was unimaginable 10 years ago.
Location of Our Vineyards
The location of our vineyards facilitates the growth of indigenous grapes. The weather conditions in the area, where it is snowy during winter and warm during summer assists in controlling diseases and thus facilitate an organic growth of the grapes. Basically it is mother nature and terroir that do the work, where the vineyards are naturally watered throughout the year either by rain, snow, or natural springs.
Our vineyards benefit from the optimum soil and weather condition where they are distributed between Bousit, Wadi Qannoubine Region, and the Maksar Mersel Region at an altitude that ranges between 800 and 2500 meters above sea level.
In addition to producing high-quality wines and spirits, we are committed to giving back to society. We grow our own grapes but also buy grapes from local farmers to encourage the revival of indigenous Lebanese grape varieties. Our work ethics revolve around equality, sustainability, positive rural life, and a positive social impact on our community.
Looking After Our Wildlife
Looking After Our Wildlife ...and the origin of the Mersel logo
The Nubian Ibex is a desert goat species that had been extirpated in Lebanon. Mersel used to be a forest in which the Nubian Ibex sought shelter, but with urbanization, deforestation and being hunted they disappeared and instead domesticated goats took their place. We want to go back to our origins and revive the land and bring Mersel back to how our ancestors knew it, by reviving the Nubian Ibex there.
We know how important and interesting they are so we are working with NGO’s such as www.istituto-oikos.org to nurture and protect them and feed them organic waste from our vineyards. We want to keep the land there as untouched as it has been by doing what our ancestors have always done and that is farming.
Taking Care of the Environment
Mersel Wine carries the story of our heritage, the passion of our ancestors, the strength of our mountains and the perseverance of our people.
The land in Mersel is a virtually untouched and unexplored territory since the land used to be snow-capped all year round. The realities of global warming have allowed us to grow grapes in regions that were once considered too cold. The rain, snow or natural springs help nourish and nurture our vines naturally.
The air is very clean and dry! Hence, no herbicides, pesticides or any toxic chemicals and pathogens need to be used. Also based on the location, one of great altitude 2000 - 2500m, we knew it would be interesting to explore cold-climate vines. Mersel is one of the highest regions for viticulture in the North Hemisphere. Mersel Wine will be the first winery in Lebanon to explore such horizons and such a unique wine-making style.
Through this project we want to replant Cedar and Juniper trees in arid lands to bring the area back to how it was once known at the time of our ancestors. This will be done in collaboration with NGO’s like Mamlaket El Lezzeb for the Juniper trees and Friends of the Cedar Forest Committee for the Cedar trees.
Giving Back to the Farmers
At Mersel Wine we want to go back to the simple life. Our ancestors used to be farmers, these farmers have left their land and moved to cities as farming wasn’t financially feasible.
We are encouraging and supporting farmers to get back to their forgotten lands and plant grapevines, and through the Heliopolis Co-operative of Deir El Ahmar, Mersel Wine will purchase their grapes. This brings great pride to the farmers as it encourages refarming and it creates work opportunities directly or indirectly in the agriculture sector while also providing them with a sustainable living.
Empowering Women & Families
Mersel Wine is all about breaking down borders, and exploring new horizons.
Mersel Wine is cofounded by two mothers with the support of our husbands, who want to showcase our passion for wine. We want to experiment with unique tastes and showcase to the world that women, children and families can work together to produce something distinctive.
Encouraging Inclusion and Diversity
Mersel Wine goes beyond wine production to reach others through giving back to our society. Our brand values focus on empowering women, being all-inclusive regardless of sex, ethnicity, status, religion or background.