Middle Eastern Wine @ Solano Cellars March 29th
Friday, March 29th
Solano Cellars
All wine regions face their share of obstacles - difficult vintages beleaguered by frost, hail, wildfires; logistical challenges that clog the international shipping channels; the ever-increasing cost of goods. Those modern challenges are difficult but largely ephemeral. The appetite for wines from France, Italy, Spain, and other established Western regions creates enough of a groundswell of support to usher producers through their most trying seasons. And at home, producers can be comforted by relative societal stability, as well as a culture and infrastructure that allows for as much security as is possible in an agricultural industry.
Wine production in the Middle East hasn't been as fortunate. Winemaking tradition here is some of the oldest and most influential in the world - Palestine can trace the domestication of the grapevine to the Nattoufians in the 7th millennium B.C., and traders from Palestine are documented in Bordeaux in the 7th century A.D.; in Lebanon, the Phoenicians established the trading culture that connected the coastline of today’s Lebanon with the whole world, and wine became a chief export. But throughout this long history, turmoil has made it difficult, and at times impossible, for that winemaking tradition to find representation on a global stage. Producers like Lebanon's Mersel and Palestine's Philokalia are looking to change that.
Born and raised in Australia to parents who fled the Lebanese Civil War, UC Davis alum Eddie Chami established Mersel as a way to reconnect with his ancestral home and to honor the indigenous grapes that grow within that diverse landscape. He sources largely from old vineyards (up to 150 years old) in the highest viticulture region in Lebanon, planted to indigenous varieties like Merwah, Sabbaghieh, and Maghdouche, and varieties like Cinsault and Sauvignon Blanc planted by the French after the Partition of the Ottoman Empire. Simply put, Eddie has been able to tell the story of his family's home through the wines he creates from these snow-capped, impossibly old vineyards. 
Unlike Eddie and Mersel, Nasser Soumi dreamed of establishing a Palestinian winery for years, all while witnessing firsthand the vineyards and their ancient, native varieties near his home in Bethlehem fall into ruins through decades of conflict. But from below the broken rocks of those vineyards, vines began to reemerge and flourish. Together with Pascal Frissant, a winemaker from the Loire Valley, they established Philokalia (which translates to "Love of the Beautiful, the Good") as a celebration of tradition, culture, and those unique (and often unidentified) native varieties of Palestine.
On Friday, we'll have our friends from Terra Sancta Trading Company and Nomadic Distributors to highlight Mersel and Philokalia's stunning wines (which have long been flying too far under the radar!). 
Flight of 6 wines for $30 ($20 Club Members)
*No reservations necessary
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