7,000-year-old winemaking region uncorked
American Wine & Spirit Importers, LLC (NAWSI) has launched a new wine program, Wine from Lebanon, in Houston, bringing the taste of 15 innovative winemakers from one of the oldest and finest wine growing regions in the world and introducing four unique indigenous grapes to the state of Texas. Texas ranks 4th in the U.S. for wine consumption and Texans have a thirst for exploring new wine regions consuming 60.3 million gallons of wine a year. The Wine from Lebanon program features 15 winemakers including several female-owned and managed wineries, winemakers under 40 years old and winemakers utilizing indigenous grapes like Obaideh, Merwah, Meksassi and Sobbagiegh, some of which has never been tasted in the U.S. Interested wholesalers, retailers and restaurants can attend select tasting events to try the wine firsthand. NAWSI is actively seeking distribution for the Wine from Lebanon program.
Sam A. Jaoude, who was born in Lebanon and one of the managing partners of NAWSI, saw this as an opportunity years ago while operating his MadeNLebanon exporting business. “Lebanon’s winemaking history stretches as far back to the Phoenicians and Cana where Jesus turned water into wine,” explained Jaoude. “We have incredible terroir for growing grapes across the entire country and we felt it was finally time to share our story with the rest of the world. I’m a proud Houstonian and as I’ve watched this city with its appetite for gourmand expand, I knew the time was finally ripe for bringing wines from Lebanon here as a springboard to the rest of the country,” said Jaoude.
Sam A. Jaoude, NAWSI
Jaoude found a kindred spirit in his now business partner Constance McDerby, co-founder of Food & Vine Time Productions, producers of a vast portfolio of consumer lifestyle events with a wine and food focus for more than 20 years. McDerby commented that “Lebanon enjoys a vast variety of wine production that is unique both in taste and culture, but our focus is on wine crafted from indigenous grape varieties. We’re looking forward to introducing this wine collection to consumers with a thirst for new and exciting tastes in the not-too-distant future,” added McDerby.
From the mountain peaks of the Batroun region to the fertile Bekaa Valley to the Jezzine Caza in South Lebanon and across the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, winemakers have been producing wine for generations. While there is truly a wine renaissance in progress, this is a story of tradition, innovation, and survival as old as civilization itself.
For history buffs the tale of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in the land of Cana is well known. But spoiler alert, Lebanon was part of the biblical land of Cana. And that’s where this tale begins. 7,000 years ago, when the Lebanese people’s ancestors—the seafaring Phoenicians, domesticated grapes.