Karam Wines (KW) was founded in 2002 by Habib Karam an airline captain in his beloved hometown of Jezzine, South Lebanon. KW was the first winery to plant wine grapes in this region, they produce red, rosé, white wines, arak, and Jezzignac (grape-based Eau de Vie) from local Lebanese indigenous grapes solely.
DID YOU KNOW?
Karam Wines was named the Best Vineyard in Asia 2021 (as per World’s best Vineyards) and ranked #14 in the world ahead of Robert Mondavi Winery, Chateau Mouton Rothschild. In 2015 Karam Wines won the award of “Special Prize Sommelier” for its white wine in Bordeaux, France, with the connotation of “Best White Wine in the Mediterranean Basin”. KW is the first winery to plant grapes for the purpose of commercial winemaking, with the aim to diversify the taste of Lebanese wines.
WHAT’S THE INNOVATION?
Innovations at KW are part of their vinifying process, they apply the small-lot approach which entails vinifying each parcel on its own to reveal its true identity and terroir character thus creating the optimal blend. KW believes in circularity, all that comes from the land must go back to the land such as grape peel, seeds, and stems are reused after harvest as vitamins/bio-degradable in the vineyards. Soon, KW will be adding two new wines, both made from Lebanese Indigenous grapes that are native to the Jezzine Caza.
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THE INNOVATION?
KW’s story began with the aim of differentiating itself from the Lebanese winery market. Lebanon is influenced by French winemaking methods, therefore wineries in Lebanon had to bring new innovations to be able to compete with wine-producing countries. KW started to plant grapes that were never planted in Lebanon, and focused on rare unpopular grapes, to entice consumers to buy Lebanese wines. KW’s “Les Raretés” line, that includes: Albarino, Saperavi, and Touriga Nacional respectively, would be of interest to importers interested to try Spanish, Georgian, or Portuguese grapes grown on Lebanese soil.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
KW innovation engages the full value chain, it rejuvenates the agriculture of nearly extinct indigenous Lebanese grapes such as Mekssasi, Hifawi, Zawtarani. KW improves farmers’ livelihood, guarantees a market for their produce, and reduces migration to the cities. The company is reducing wasted produce and increasing the use of abandoned land. KW is also working on creating new connections with partners abroad to import Lebanese wines to international markets. Moreover, KW decided to take it one step further and focused on MEKSASSI, a Lebanese indigenous grape native to the Jezzine area to encourage landowners who have abandoned their land to make use of it by planting grapes.
WHO IS BENEFITTING?
Karam Wines contributes to the Lebanese economy as a whole, most farmers in the Jezzine Caza were planting apples, most of them going to waste. KW invested in planting vineyards to substitute apple fields. KW supported the farmers by introducing them to new farming techniques and providing them with technical assistance, while purchasing their produce during harvest. Also, KW is working on increasing wine tourism benefitting the Caza of Jezzine. At a customer level, KW increased the diversity of their products and introduced local and international customers to Lebanese heritage and roots.