Heroic viticulture – the 2013 harvest in Syria

You must have a serious attachment to making wine to continue under these circumstances: http://www.decanter.com/people-and-places/interviews/584798/gunfire-and-grapes-in-taxis-how-civil-war-threatened-syria-s-only-harvest?utm_source=Cheetahmail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=news+alert+link+100214&utm_campaign=Newsletter-100214

We have heard before of grapes being picked under similar circumstances by the Hochars of Château Musar in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Incredible dedication, bordering on heroism, is required here. Talk of heroic vitivulture frequently is about people crawlign around on insanely steep hillsides, but having to dodge bullets surely must take first place in terms of heroism.

I can’t help but feeling both sad and elated at the state of viticulture in the Middle East. This region, the birthplace of agriculture – including viticulture – produced wine for millennia, only to almost completely eradicate it in the throes of religious fervour (there are tales of a dionysiac cult existing all the way into the 18th century in the hilly areas of present-day northwestern Iraq). The few instances of wine being made for the past few hundred years, however, have also been religiously inspired. These days, we are seeing a rising wave of wine coming out of the Middle East, including highly accomplished wines from Turkey, Lebanon and Israel.

The soils, elevations and climates are certainly there, so it seems to me to be just a question of relatively little time before we see a broadly-based, fully competitive – indeed world class – set of wines coming from there. I can’t wait to properly discover the indigenous varieties that lie waiting for us.

Yours truly

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