Join us for our inaugural Wine Maker's Dinner event on 11 September 2023. This event features a 7-course ‘Taste of the Estate’ menu that promises to tantalise your taste buds. This is an event that wine enthusiasts should not miss, as Lebanese Wine Maker Sami Ghosn, founder and owner of Massaya Winery, will pair each course with carefully selected Lebanese wines. Throughout the evening, Sami will provide a detailed explanation of the wine production process in Lebanon, giving you a better understanding and appreciation of the wines of Lebanon.
This exceptional experience will take place at the 2 AA rosette award-winning Restaurant in Killeavy Castle Estate. This is an opportunity to indulge in exquisite food and drink, and we encourage you to take advantage of it. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you plan to spend the night at Killeavy Castle Estate, you can take advantage of a special Bed and Breakfast rate of £130 per couple (based on two people sharing). To book, email email@example.com to book this special rate.
Wine Maker Sami Ghosn, founder of Massaya Winery, Lebanon
Massaya began in 1998 following Sami’s return from America to reclaim his family home in the Beqaa. Since then, Sami, alongside his brother Ramzi has managed to create one of Lebanon’s most respected and loved wineries in spite of countless obstacles. With wineries in the Beqaa and Faqra on Mount Lebanon, they produce a wonderful range of wines.
7-course Tasting Menu
Canapes: Lamb kofta | Kibbeh balls | Moutabal or fatayer blahmeh | James Nicholson Sparkling NV, Loire, France
First course: Seeded wheaten bread, cottage cheese butter, treacle
Second course: Kilkeel crab/ pickled seaweed/ apple/ basil | Massaya White 2021
Third course: Lamb cutlet, green beans, goats cheese, shallot tart tatin | Massaya Le Colombier 2020
Fourth course: Preserved fruit lollipop | Homemade berry-infused rice wine
Fifth course: Estate longhorn fillet of beef. Garden vegetables, truffle, Yorkshire pudding, bearnaise | Massaya Terrasses de Baalbeck 2019
Sixth course: Poached meringue. Plum, vanilla anglaise, white chocolate tuille | Massaya Rose 2021
Seventh course: Petit fours. Neary nogs chocolate macaroon. Sugared doughnut with raspberry curd
Meet the Wine Maker Series with Sami Ghosn Massaya Winery, Lebanon
Date: Monday 14 August | Time: 6pm to 11pm | Location: Restaurant in Killeavy Castle Estate
The History and Making of Massaya Winery
In 1990, the countryside house of the family in the Beqaa at Tanaïl had been abandoned to civil war and was inhabited by several families of squatters. Vegetation was scarce as the wells were damaged and the fence non-existent. It took the Ghosns’ best negotiating skills to reclaim the land.
Once done, none of the family members had a clear vision of the next steps, so they started to produce all kinds of local produce, such as dairy, dry raisins, arak, and molasses. All these items were sold in a corner of the family pharmacy. During a visit to Ramzi in France, Sami started looking for a bottle for Arak and rapidly noticed a blue bottle made in Germany that stood out. A friend who worked for a top ad agency, Dany Richa, helped with the first branding and confirmed the name Massaya as it stands for twilight in Lebanese, given that at the specific moment the sun sets behind Mount Lebanon, the sky of the Beqaa turns dark blue with a hue similar to the blue bottle of arak.
Gradually, the property was being revitalized with trees, plants, and passionate peasants …. and life was coming back …. The launching of the Arak bottle coincided with the reconstruction effort in the country and the great wave of hope it generated. Its success was striking, and gradually, Sami and Ramzi abandoned their other professional occupations to focus on the blue bottle of Arak. Both ambitious, they wanted to expand into wine but had no knowledge or experience; therefore, they decided to partner with some French domains to benefit from their expertise.
Daringly, they knocked on the door of a gentleman in Bordeaux, Dominique Hebrard, who was interested in the project. Then, the Brunier family of le Vieux Télégraphe gave their approval to this challenging project.
You have to understand that in 1997 only a few historical wineries were in control of all the wine production in Lebanon, and no one challenged these household staple brands, but the Ghosns and the French partners believed they could join this small wine market on the condition that Massaya focus on quality and keep the size of the winery and vineyards human. So, in 1998, the first new generation winery was launched which marked the renaissance of winemaking in Lebanon. From just four wineries in 1998, Lebanon now has more than 45 wineries.
It took several years for the Ghosns and their French partners to detect the right terroirs and grape varieties. Some 10 years on, the Ghosns and the partners realised that the qualitative way forward should be based on new principles:
- • The grapes varieties should be resistant to climate change: that is, able to withstand more heat and longer dry seasons.
- • The terroirs in the Beqaa are not homogenous, and some zones, noticeably in the north, have the highest potential and deserve to be singled out.
- • It is important to cultivate white vines above 1100 metres.
- • The final say in winemaking and the blending should be in the hands of the Ghosn’s in order to avoid replicating the Rhone or Bordeaux wines.
- • White wine in Lebanon deserves a totally different approach and equipment.
- • The Beqaa is not the best location to properly cellar red wines, mainly because of the dry weather.
These principles gradually took shape in a challenging project: Massaya Faqra, the new horizon for Massaya in 2015-2025. Once again, the Ghosn family regrouped, with Ghada Ghosn joining Massaya in parallel to her yoga career. She brought more serenity to the team.