Owner of Clos de Cana Vineyard, Ras el Harf, Bhamdoun
Most people are aware that the Bekaa Valley is the place for wineries yet there is one winery that is much closer to Beirut than the Bekaa. Just 18km away from the capital and conveniently situated off the Damascus Road at Ras el Harf, Bhamdoun, Clos de Cana Winery is owned by Upper Metn local Fadi Gerges and has been in operation for 12 years. This hidden treasure is great for wine tasting tours and lunches for large groups if booked in advance. Currently, free accommodation is on offer and in the near future, building individual chalets is on plan.
With panoramic views across the Lamartine Valley, so named after French poet Alphonse de Lamartine, who once visited the area, Clos de Cana produces a whopping 200 to 300 thousand bottles of wine per year. “We sell it to the UK, France and further afield,” said Gerges. “We even produce wine for other grape growers too.”
Fadi Gerges is fully engaged in the local community and works towards bringing people back to the land and the villages that are spread throughout the Upper Metn. In a unique and eco-friendly project, Gerges supplies villagers with vines to plant on their own land and at harvest time he buys the grapes from the landowners at market prices. Currently, 32 villages have participated in the project and this has allowed the villagers to put roots back in villages that were once virtually empty.
“It is pretty foolproof. I offer the vines and an agriculture engineer explains to villagers how to care for the vines. It’s ecological and a reason to stay in the village,” said Gerges. His vision for the area doesn’t end there. He has his eyes on a hundred-year-old silk factory which currently stands in ruins, and which Gerges wants to renew and have working again. Also in the pipeline are walking and driving tours throughout Upper Metn.