The wine culture

of Syria

Mount Bargylus
Syria's wine culture is almost as old as its capital: Damascus was established in the 8th millennium BC and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places of mankind. Furthermore, the oldest preserved wine relic in the world was found not far from it: a grape press, dated to a period around 8,000 BC. The scholar Pliny the Elder (*23 o.24 to 79 A.D.) mentioned the Mount Bargylus six millennia later in his work Naturalis historia and described it as a massif mountain running parallel to the Mediterranean coast. This is the oldest fully preserved systematic encyclopedia. And grapes grew densely over its slopes during the Greek-Roman period. Later on it were the Christian Orthodox monks who systematically cultivated the wine in Syria, which of course was not particularly widespread. And the amount of current wineries in the country is still unkown.
Saade Brothers
At the moment we can only name one winery: Domaine de Bargylus. The Lebanese brothers Karim and Sandro Saadé bought 12 hectares of land in 1997 around Latakia at an altitude of about 900 m. They cultivated the land and planted vineyards In 2003 while founding their winery. They are following the French style by planting the varieties Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Stephane Derenoncourt, a renowned consultant from Bordeaux, assited them day by day and supported the brothers at the same time with the construction of their Lebanese winery, Château Marsyas, in the Bekaa Valley near Kefraya. At that time it was still peaceful in the region. The two Saadé brothers regularly drove across the Syrian border to their winery. Even Derenoncourt joined them every few weeks.
And both of their wines, red and white, keep impressing testers and porfesionals including the famous wine critic Jancis Robinson: "Bargylus is the finest wine produced in the eastern Mediterranean. 2006 was the year - the first vintage, which was bottled. Since the beginning of the civil war, things have change drastically and the circumstances became more difficult. For security reasons, Karim and Sandro Saadé have not been to Domaine de Bargylus since the beginning of 2011. They currently manage everything by telephone from Lebanon.
Wines of Domaine Bargylus
Syrischer Weinanbau
As the harvest approaches, some grapes are taken all the way to Beirut in a refrigerated container. There they analyse the grapes and decide when is the right time to harvest. A trip to Beirut usually takes four hours. The Borders are often closed though causing the the driver to get stuck and spoiling the grapes. They will try a new attempt the next day to across the crisis area. This procedure makes this wine production dangerous and cost-intensive. It is obvious that the complex export process is both extremely time-consuming and risky. Everyone hopes that the situation in Syria will stabilise as soon as possible. May the ambitious efforts of Karim and Sandro Saadé contribute to the overall prosperity of Syrian winegrowing. The first-class wines of Domaine de Bargylus speak for themselves! 
Text researched and developed by Charlotte Münch. © Copyright & all other rights and/or licenses of texts on weinstore24 belong to