A modest six million bottles are produced annually, by only just over a dozen wineries, but with 90% destined for export it is quite readily available and, in the case of Château Musar, highly regarded. It is the only significant winemaking region in Lebanon.
The Old World, specifically France, and Bordeaux in particular, has provided the inspiration for the winemakers of Lebanon. In the red wines structure and balance, and therefore great ageing potential, are valued more highly than upfront fruit flavours by the top producers. Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Merlot are all grown and blended with skill. The whites, made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the local vines Merwah and Obaideh, are more fruit driven and generally less complex.
The Bekaa Valley combines low latitude with high altitude to create an ideal environment for the growing of grapes. Winters are cold, allowing the vines an important period of dormancy, but summers are warm and rainfall is plentiful. In recent decades it is the political situation that has been the main hindrance to a thriving wine industry, but hopefully this is now stable.