Vinifest dates announced, Lebanese wine industry flourishes

Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2015
By: Talia Abbas
Source: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: The eighth-annual Vinifest, an extravaganza of local wines and performances, will occupy Beirut Hippodrome Oct. 7-10. At a press conference at La Table D’Alfred on Sursock Street, Ashrafieh last week, Neda Farah, founder and director-general of event management company Eventions, spoke briefly about this year’s theme of wine and tasting, and eagerly introduced Russia as the festival’s guest of honor.
In a speech, Zafer Chaoui, president of Lebanon’s official wine association, the Union Vinicole du Liban, and chairman of Château Ksara, said that “wine is our national pride and its reputation has been established beyond the shadow of doubt.”
Chaoui implored the citizens of Lebanon and the owners of restaurants to be proud of Lebanese wine and to purchase it instead of imported wines, many of which can be of lesser quality, yet more expensive.
Lebanon’s wineries are among the oldest sites of wine production in the world, and believed to date all the way back to the time of the Phoenicians, who were instrumental in spreading wine culture throughout the Mediterranean region.
Today, Lebanon’s wineries produce nearly 8 million bottles per year, mainly in the Bekaa Valley and the Chouf. Almost half this amount is exported to the United Kingdom, France and the United States. Lebanon imports 1.5 million bottles of wine per year, most of which originate from France.
The guest of honor, Khayrat Akhmetov, director of the Russian Cultural Center, spoke of Russia and Lebanon’s long historical ties, from the Ottoman Empire up to modern day diplomatic relations.
He expressed his heartfelt appreciation for Vinifest and its organizers, and said that only a “unified initiative such as this one, which [brings people together] according to a principle of [establishing] friendly ties, can play a significant role in building a prosperous Lebanon.”
Other keynote speakers included Louis Lahoud, general director of the Agriculture Ministry, who said he was proud of the achievements of Lebanese wines, and Ronald Hochar, vice-president of the INVV and chairman of Château Musar, who stated that “Vinifest enhances the culture of wine among the Lebanese public.”
Both Lahoud and Chaoui spoke of their dear friend Serge Hochar, Ronald Hochar’s late brother, and his many contributions to supporting and developing the Lebanese wine industry.
Hochar’s dedication to producing fine wines in harrowing times earned him the title “father of Lebanese wine” and in 1984, Decanter magazine, an influential British wine publication, named Hochar its first “man of the year.”
Vinifest will welcome three personalities from Decanter magazine this year.
For more information visit their website vinifestlebanon.com.


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