In the late 50s in a small town in the South of Lebanon, a young boy would help his grandmother Latifeh pick grapes to make Arak, the national drink of Lebanon, an aniseed-based Eau De Vie. He would gaze at the sky, watch aircrafts passing by and dream about flying.
The dream turned reality: I flew for 43 years and never worked a day in my life. During my years of service, while flying over the Southern mountains of Lebanon, my passion for vineyards made me long to be amongst the vines. And so, Karam Wines was founded in 2002 in my beloved home town of Jezzine in Southern Lebanon.
Back then, out of the 9 wineries in Lebanon, most were located in the Bekaa region. In our search for a new identity and a new taste for Lebanese wines, we were the first to plant wine grapes in the South and are today, among the 56 wineries that Lebanon counts, the only winery located in this region of Lebanon.
This passion was passed on to my children, John and Thouraya, who spent their summers as teenagers in the vineyards harvesting grapes. John’s first love was the vine; he is an agricultural engineer, currently pursuing his Enology degree in Bordeaux. My daughter, Thouraya, is an ex-auditor for Ernst & Young who came to think that auditing is a lot more fun with a glass of wine. We are proudly, and solely, a family business.
It is a Karam family staple to shout at the top of our lungs, to argue with thorough conviction, followed by drinks and a lot of experimentation with wine. This explosive atmosphere led us to plant exotic varietals never tried before in Lebanon: “Les Raretés” series - French for Rarities - was born and came to complete the full range of Karam Wines. It is a collection of mono-varietals based on, Albarino (Spain), Touriga Nacional (Portugal), Saperavi (Georgia) and last, but definitely not least, Meksassi an indigenous grape of Lebanon and more specifically of the Jezzine area. “Les Raretés” is a world journey from the comfort of a dinner table.
Karam vineyards are situated at high altitudes up to 1,400 meters above sea level, looking to the west and facing the Mediterranean Sea giving our wines a rounded acidity, unique freshness, moderate alcohol levels and minerality particular to the Jezzine terroir. Each varietal is planted in its ideal terroir, thanks to the geological diversity in the South, and is maintained using specific agricultural practices. We also use the small, unique lot approach, vinifying each parcel on its own to reveal its true identity and terroir character thus creating the optimal blend.
And even though awards are not always the best indication of the quality of a wine, it doesn’t harm to know that Karam produces one of the most awarded wines in Lebanon, with 55 awards, and counting. – Captain Habib Karam