Cave du Monastère St.Jean: A Story of History & Wine

On one of the many hillsides of the Metn region of Lebanon, lies the historical Cave du Monastere St Jean, in the beautiful village of Khenchara.
Today the winery is over 300 years old! Yes, you read that right, the winery is the oldest winery in Lebanon.

The monastery was established in 1696, and at the time, you couldn’t have a monastery if it didn’t produce wine. Because of wine’s liturgical aspect, monasteries were expected to produce the wine they would use in Church services, and then distribute it to the people of their town. So, when the monastery saw the light, the winery followed soon after, and was officially established in 1720!

Father Charbel Najjar spoke to us about their rich history, he told us about the agriculture revolution in the 18th century, pioneered by the priests of St. Jean’s Monastery who started producing silk and wine as a way to take care of their home and their people. He also told us about how the priests preserved their traditional winemaking techniques and skills, to maintain the identity and quality of their wines. 

In 2006 however, the winery shifted their whole approach to winemaking and transitioned into an officially modern winery, following the same sets of rules and regulations as the biggest wineries in the world.

As a result, Cave du Monastere St.Jean produces all kinds of wines from red and white, to rose and sweet. They have it all!

 What makes their wines so special?

“There are 4 main things that make a wine what it is” Father Charbel answers.
“The first is the terroir, the second is the climate, the third is the quality of the vines, and finally the techniques and vinification methods.”

As a matter of fact, Cave du Monastere St.Jean is one the very few wineries located in the Metn region of Lebanon, and for Father Charbel, that is what makes their wines so unique: their unique environment and unique terroir make for very unique wines that perfectly represent the identity of the Metn.

We had a taste of their incredible Cuvée Zakher, and were transported in time once again!
This bottle is an homage to Abdallah Zakher, who founded the first Arabic printing press during the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the Ottomans were trying to suppress Arabic culture and language, so the priests of the Monastery established the Arabic printing press as a sign of resistance. They printed hundreds of Arabic books, spanning from literature, to philosophy, science and religion.
We love wines like Cuvee Zakher: you get a taste of history as well as a taste of a fantastic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

We also sipped on their unique Panagia, a bottle produced to commemorate the 3rd centennial of the cellar.  An ode to the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, it is aged for 2 years in new oak barrels, and is a blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon and Syrah.
A few of these bottles have been made, so if you’d like to get your hands on one of them, do it now!.

They say wine tells a story, and that is true about every bottle of Cave du Monastere St Jean. Every sip tells a story, and you can get a taste too -  just click HERE.  

June 23, 2021