Latourba: It starts with the soil
Deep in Saghbine, overlooking Lake Qaraoun in the West Beqaa, lies Latourba winery, nestled at the crossroads of the ancient wine trade that travelled from Haifa to Baalbek.
In this place once called the “wine press”, the soil tells stories of civilizations, cultures and wine. Hence the name “Latourba”: The soil.
Elie Chehwane is an engineer and former head of municipality of Saghbine. He had always wanted to create a sustainable project that would support his beloved village and create opportunities for locals to work in the area rather than commute to the city. He wanted to encourage locals to get back to source and get back to the terroir. For him, it was crucial to work with crops that would actually benefit from from the richness of the soil he was living on: “We thought of wine because, since the time of the Romans, the land here, used to be planted with grapes known for their superior quality.”
Today, he runs Latourba with his wife Christine and his family of 4 boys. The winery uses artisanal and traditional methods to produce unique wines following one concept: “Single vineyard, single variety”. Each piece of land has a story to tell and different way of expressing it.
So, every parcel is vinified and evaluated separately, and each variety is vinified and evaluated separately.
As a boutique winery, producing mono-varietal wines helps Elie understand how each grape variety is maturing and responding to the soil every year and every season.
“Every parcel has a different grape variety, and the same parcel makes the same vintage every year, so it’s interesting to compare year after year,” says Chehwane.
If there are any corrections to be made, they are made in agriculture and never during vinification.
Everything comes down to the soil and Latourba wines are a testament to that: Their young White Cival for example, borrows its name from the white storks that fly above the valley. Their Rosé Solac paints a beautiful picture of the valley changing colors as the sun goes down; And their red Simil hints to the ancient civilizations that set foot on this land.
Their exceptional single varietals are all aged in oak and include Petit-Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. They’ve also produced the very first Lebanese sparkling wine made using traditional methods brought back from Champagne-Ardenne: Unique.
Elie’s passion project does not stop there!
The winery was only the beginning and in 2015, he built an animal farm with cows, goats, sheep, and chickens. He now produces eggs, labneh, and a variety of artisanal cheeses, including goat cheese and terroir products.
It really is all about the “tourba” for the Chehwane family, and you should get a taste HERE.