Our Story

In 1990, the countryside house of the family in the Beqaa at Tanaïl had been abandoned to civil war and was inhabited by several families of squatters. Vegetation was scarce as the wells were damaged and the fence non-existent. It took the Ghosns’ best negotiating skills to reclaim the land.

 

Once done, none of the family members had a clear vision of the next steps, so they started to produce all kinds of local produce, such a dairy, dry rasins, arak, and molasses. All these items were sold in a corner of the family pharmacy. During a visit to Ramzi in France, Sami started looking for a bottle for arak and rapidly noticed a blue bottle made in Germany that stood out. A friend who worked for a top ad agency, Dany Richa, helped with the first branding and confirmed the name Massaya as it stands for twilight in Lebanese, given that at the specific moment the sun sets behind Mount Lebanon the sky of the Beqaa turns dark blue with a hue similar to the blue bottle of arak. Gradually the property was being revitalized with trees, plants, passionate peasants …. and life was coming back …. The launching of the arak bottle coincided with the reconstruction effort in the country and the great wave of hope it generated. Its success was striking and gradually Sami and Ramzi abandoned their other professional occupations to focus on the blue bottle of arak. Both ambitious, they wanted to expand into wine but had no knowledge or experience; therefore, they decided to partner with some French domains to benefit from their expertise.

 

Daringly they knocked on the door of a gentleman in Bordeaux, Dominique Hebrard, who was interested in the project. Then the Brunier family of le Vieux Télégraphe gave their approval to this challenging project.

 

You have to understand that in 1997 only a few historical wineries were in control of all the wine production in Lebanon and no one challenged these household staple brands, but the Ghosns and the French partners believed they could join this small wine market on the condition that Massaya focus on quality and keep the size of the winery and vineyards human. So in 1998, the first new generation winery was launched that marked the renaissance of winemaking in Lebanon. From just four wineries in 1998, now Lebanon has more than 45 wineries.  

 

It took several years for the Ghosns and their French partners to detect the right terroirs and grape varieties.

 

Some 10 years on, the Ghosns and the partners realized that the qualitative way forward should be based on new principles:

The grapes varieties should be resistant to the climate change: that is, able to withstand more heat and longer dry seasons.

The terroirs in the Beqaa are not homogenous and some zones, noticeably in the north, have the highest potential and deserve to be singled out.

It is important to cultivate the white vines above 1100 m.

The final say in winemaking and the blending should be in the hands of the Ghosns in order to avoid replicating the Rhone or Bordeaux wines.

White wine in Lebanon deserves a totally different approach and equipment.

The Beqaa is not the best location to properly cellar red wines, mainly because of the dry weather.

 

These principles gradually took shape in a challenging project: Massaya Faqra, the new horizon for Massaya in 2015-2025.

 

Once again the Ghosn family regrouped, with Ghada Ghosn joining Massaya in parallel to her yoga career. She brought more serenity to the team.

 

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