War and wine

 We spare little thought for this topic, and yet wars and conflicts directly impact winegrowers based in the ‘hot’ zones around the globe. Irrespective of bombs and political tension, vines need daily care.


In Syria, the Saadé brothers are never short of imaginative ways of making their wine. Bombarded several times by the jihadists, their twelve-hectare vineyard is now managed remotely. Every day, taxis loaded with fruit cross the border to allow the two brothers to check the quality of the grapes and decide when to pick them. The grapes are then harvested by long-time employees, before crossing the front lines to Lebanon where they are vinified and marketed under the Bargylus label.

On the West Bank, the Khoury family have thrown down the gauntlet and aim to perpetuate family traditions by producing red and white wines. Every year, more than 30,000 bottles leave their winery and the family’s hope is that they will be distributed internationally under the banner of Palestine, despite tensions in the region. The economic difficulties that go hand in hand with the conflict do not spare winegrowers either.

In South Africa, the industry was long affected by the apartheid blockade. Deprived of international grape varieties and innovative yeasts, growers developed Pinotage, a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsault. Now recognized for its quality, the variety was used at the time to produce red wines for the local market, due to a lack of outlets. It was not until the end of apartheid in 1991 that the vineyards regained their international dimension.


Written by Alexandra Reveillon