Legendary Lebansese Winery Determined to Survive War — Again
BEIRUT, LEBANON, August 3rd — Serge Hochar, the proprietor of Lebanon's Chateau Musar winery, released the following statement today regarding the immediate and long-term future of Chateau Musar in light of the continuing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"This is the path our history has taken for 7,000 years. However, prophecies also say that Lebanon will overcome all adverse situations. What is happening now is very sad, but we have no choice other than to face adversity.
This is what we have always done at Chateau Musar, ever since we embarked upon making this wine known world-wide for its truth, identity and for its reflection of our culture. Our history, our philosophy and our winemaking experience can only grow and develop from what is happening around us. This is the reason we established a Chateau Musar office in the U.K. in 1979 to take care of our world market, which has proven especially important in situations like this. This plan has proved its efficiency during all the years of war that we have faced since then, and it is still true today. We are in a position to supply the world through our U.K. company, and this is the message we want to relay to the market and to all the friends and consumers of Chateau Musar.
Regarding the future, it is very difficult to have a clear vision of the way things will develop and the time it will take. We are taking all the necessary steps for this year's harvest, however, which is due to start at the end of August. We hope to have a normal harvest regarding maturity times, although picking might be a little bit delayed because of weather conditions. So far the vineyards are doing well and we expect a very good crop for the 2006 vintage."
Created in 1930 in the cellar of an old XVIIIth century castle, Château Musar is as much the work of a family as the living testimony of all the civilizations that tread its soil. After a long stay in France, Gaston Hochar returned to Lebanon and created Château Musar in the cellars of the old 'Mzar' castle in Ghazir, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. What began as a hobby soon became a passion; a passion inspired by an initial encounter with renowned viticulturist Ronald Barton while stationed in Lebanon during the Second World War.
The family's love for wine grew and in 1959, after completing his oenology diploma in Bordeaux, the eldest son, Serge, entered the business. Some call him the magician, the man behind this extraordinary wine. His response? That all he seeks is to translate what nature intended. Serge's younger brother Ronald, named after the late Barton, took over Château Musar's marketing and finance departments in 1962.
Château Musar first achieved international recognition during the Bristol Wine Fair in England in 1979, where the wine press and prominent critics including Michael Broadbent declared it "the discovery of the fair". In 1984, the respected wine magazine Decanter named Serge Hochar the first ever "Wine Man of the Year" for his extraordinary achievements, determination and dedication to producing wines during the difficult years of the Lebanese Civil War.
In recent years, Musar has been part of events such as the "Dîner des 30" organized by Champagne Louis Roederer in honour of the 30 best wines of the world. Musar annually attends the London Wine Fair and Vinexpo every two years. Present at frequent auctions of private collections, its name has been linked to Sotheby's in 1979 and Christies in 2000 and 2004. The way paved by the wine from the land of "milk and honey" consequently allowed Lebanon to adhere to the OIV - the "Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin"- in 1995 with the collaboration of other Lebanese wine producers.
Disclaimer: I am the US importer of this wine but felt the topic was of sufficient general interest to post.