The beautiful district of Batroun is now home to a bunch of prominent Lebanese wineries. Lebanese mapping company Zawarib pick their favorites for a road trip to the north Lebanon region that will satisfy your senses. All you need is a car, sunshine, and an early start
Head north along the country’s coastal highway for a scenic sea view. Once you pass Jbeil, keep an eye out for an army checkpoint from where you can take a mountain road that leads to Rachana, a village which features an open-air drive-through exhibition of splendid sculptures by the Basbous family of artists. The art will keep you inspired until you reach the village of Smar Jbeil, characterized by a Crusader castle ruin. The village is also home to Mar Nohra Church, named after a Persian missionary who was blinded by the Romans. Today the church welcomes pilgrims from near and far seeking to be healed from eye disease.
Further up the road that goes above Smar Jbeil sits Atibaia (1 – atibaiawine.com,) a boutique winery surrounded by fertile vineyards. The winery makes its home inside a 17th century rustic house with lush surroundings and produces a delicate and intense deep red wine.
Further along the road, catch your last glimpse of the Mediterranean sea before being completely immersed in the Batroun Valley. Soon enough you will reach a fork in the road at a gas station. Take a left to reach Clos du Phoenix (2 – 06 720366, 03 271672, closduphoenix.com,) managed and run by a family of artisan winemakers. Enjoy a wonderful wine-tasting experience and breathtaking view on the terrace of the winery restaurant (open on demand for groups of 10 plus.)
Drive back down to the town of Batroun, and expect to be taken aback by Batroun’s very own Hollywood signpost – the town’s name is realized in huge white letters that sit at the town’s entrance.
Turn right at the gas station and head to the village of Kfifane, where monastery and winery Adyar (3 – 03 586244, adyar.org.lb, Adyar.lb) are waiting to be explored. Breathe in the mountain air and drink from the fresh water wells surrounded by endless groves of olive trees, before savoring wine and organic produce made by the monks.
Nearby in Basbina lies Ixsir (4 – 71 631613, ixsir.com.lb,) another magnificent winery in a 17th century bastion. Bask in the garden sunlight while enjoying the gifts of Mother Nature in a glass of wine. The Nicolas Audi à la Maison d’Ixsir (71 773770) restaurant is open for lunch daily, excluding Mondays.
Proceed on your journey to Chabtine to see ruins of a stone house and the famous life-sized shrine of St. Rita. Although it looks as though you have reached a dead end in the road, drive on to reach Domaine S.Najm (5 – 70 623023, domaine-snajm.com,) a beautiful old house come winery where the sweet smell of arak and wine will draw you in. Olive oil, wine and arak can be appreciated in this charming spot, which is also excellent for picnics if the weather allows.
Back at the St. Rita shrine follow signs to Douma, a picturesque and authentic village filled with traditional stone houses, red roofs and an old souk. There you will find the grand circular Douma Hotel (6 – 06 520202, hoteldouma.com) – the oldest hotel of the village, built in the dazzling era of the ‘60s. Each room offers a 180-degree view of the valley due to the curved architecture of the building’s façade. Take note of the stone plates that commemorate events from the 19th Century – Douma is over 120 years old.
Another great place to stay overnight or visit for lunch is Beit Douma (7 – 06 520702, soukeltayeb.com/beit,) a beautifully restored Lebanese house where you can completely immerse yourself in the classic Lebanese village way of life. Connect with nature and gather, pick and appreciate fresh ingredients before cooking them. Beit Douma offers a rich culinary and cultural experience with all the comforts of 21st century living.
As you near the end of your excursion, take the new highway from Douma back to Batroun and enjoy one last sweet detour to Rachkedde. There lies family-owned boutique winery Aurora (8 – 03 295458, Aurora Wine.) Enjoy the majestic colors of Batroun’s sunset sky with a bright, fresh and velvety glass of the Aurora Vin de Montagne, before heading home.
A collaboration between Lebanon Traveler and Zawarib – guiding you around Lebanon.