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The Sham region, also known as the Levant, encompasses countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Turkey. It is experiencing a remarkable renaissance in its wine industry, with these countries gaining international recognition for their unique and high-quality wines. This recognition is owed to their diverse terroirs, ancient winemaking traditions, and a new generation of innovative winemakers boldly celebrating indigenous varieties.

Lebanon stands out with its rich history of winemaking dating back thousands of years. In addition to the renowned wineries in the Beka’a Valley, the country boasts other wine regions and vineyards dotted across its landscape, from the north to the south and everywhere in between. Over the last decade, at least 60 registered vineyards have emerged, contributing to the country’s flourishing wine industry. The Beka’a Valley, nestled between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges, serves as the heart of Lebanon’s wine country, renowned for its fertile soils and favourable climate. Here, esteemed wineries like Chateau St. Thomas and Couvent Rouge produce award-winning wines from indigenous grape varieties such as Obeidi and Merwah, alongside international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

In Syria, despite the recent war, winemaking has a long and storied history. The country’s coastal and inland regions offer diverse microclimates ideal for viticulture. Although the industry has faced setbacks due to conflict, there are signs of revival, with winemakers like Domaine Bargylus and Jarjour Winery  continuing to produce high-quality and innovative wines.

Similarly, winemaking in Palestine boasts a deep-rooted history dating back to biblical times. Today, Palestinian wineries such as Taybeh Winery and Cremisan Wine Estate are gaining acclaim for their commitment to quality and sustainability, despite the challenges posed by the restrictions imposed on them by Israel. Situated in the West Bank, these wineries offer a diverse range of wines, from crisp white blends to robust reds, showcasing the unique terroir of the region.

Jordan, believed to have been the source of the wine served to Jesus during the Last Supper (from the north Jordanian town of Umm Qais), is also carving a niche for itself in the global wine scene. Wineries such as Saint George and Zumot Wines are leading the charge. Nestled in the hills of northern Jordan, these wineries benefit from the country’s diverse microclimates, producing elegant wines that, while not made from indigenous grapes that have sadly been lost to time, still reflect the character of the land.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s ancient land of Anatolia boasts a rich winemaking heritage dating back thousands of years. Regions like Cappadocia, Thrace, and Aegean are witnessing a burgeoning wine scene, with wineries like Kavaklıdere and Kayra Winery spearheading the industry. Turkish wines, crafted from indigenous grapes such as Narince, Öküzgözü, and Kalecik Karası, are gaining recognition for their unique flavours and exceptional quality.

But these are not the only age-old libations experiencing a renaissance in the region. The new generation of Shamis are also innovating other esteemed ancestral beverages like beer and Arak, and even leaving their mark on other spirits, from gin and whiskey to Mastika and Limoncello. 

In summary, the Sham region is an under-appreciated treasure, with Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Turkey emerging as exciting destinations for wine enthusiasts seeking to explore ancient traditions and discover new flavours in the glass.

Looking beyond Sham, the enchanting island of Cyprus beckons with its own winemaking traditions dating back millennia. Nestled in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus boasts a unique terroir and indigenous grape varieties like Xynisteri and Maratheftiko, cultivated in regions such as the Troodos Mountains and the Limassol countryside. Wineries like Ktima Gerolemo and Vouni Panayia Winery showcase the island’s winemaking prowess, offering visitors a taste of Cyprus’s rich vinicultural heritage.

On the sun-drenched shores of Crete, Greece’s largest island, winemaking thrives amidst a backdrop of stunning landscapes and ancient ruins. The island’s diverse microclimates, from the rugged mountains to the coastal plains, provide an ideal setting for cultivating indigenous grape varieties like Vidiano and Kotsifali. Wineries such as Lyrarakis and Douloufakis Winery are at the forefront of Crete’s wine renaissance, crafting exceptional wines that reflect the island’s unique terroir and cultural heritage.

Venture to the North African shores of Tunisia, where winemaking has been practiced since ancient times. Despite its tumultuous history, Tunisia’s wine industry is experiencing a revival, with wineries like Domaine Neferis and Les Vignerons de Carthage leading the way. Situated in regions like Mornag and Sidi Salem, these wineries produce a diverse array of wines, from crisp whites to full-bodied reds, showcasing the country’s rich winemaking heritage and Mediterranean charm.

Armenia, nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, boasts a winemaking tradition that predates recorded history. The country’s ancient vineyards, cultivated in regions like Vayots Dzor and Ararat Valley, yield unique grape varieties like Areni and Voskehat, revered for their distinct flavors and aromas. Wineries such as Zorah Wines and Trinity Canyon Vineyards are at the forefront of Armenia’s wine renaissance, crafting artisanal wines that pay homage to the country’s winemaking legacy and terroir.

The WANA region is a treasure trove of ancient winemaking traditions and emerging wine destinations, where every sip tells a story and every glass is filled with the essence of the region’s storied past and promising future.

In addition to the aforementioned, at Taste WANA, we have access to a wealth of lesser-known and emerging vineyards and artisans who are pushing boundaries in the industry. We offer exclusive wine and liquor tasting experiences, providing you with the opportunity to unearth these hidden treasures and delve into the rich tapestry of WANA’s vibrant libation culture. Just share your preferences with us, and we’ll arrange a tasting experience tailored to your interests.

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