“Excellent grapes do make excellent wine” is the motto adopted by the Hark family who owns Batroun Mountains winery. Asaad and Katy Hark decided to come back from Minnesota to Lebanon in 2004. Asaad Hark moved from Batroun to the USA at the age of 19 to pursue mechanical engineering studies. He got married to Katy, native of Batroun and worked for many years in the trade field. They moved to Batroun and brought with them a dream, having in mind to make it a reality which is to establish their own winery. This Batrouni couple wanted to come back to their roots and share the love of the land with their six children.
The Hark family spent the first three years of the implementation of their project establishing the fields and equipping the winery. They had to wait until 2007 to produce the first bottle of wine which was made from their grapes, planted in their own vineyards located in the mountains of Batroun district in six different towns on altitudes from 400 to 1500 meters above sea level.
The passion of wine making is viral in the Hark family, as their parents kids have decided to put wine in the center of their lives and future projects. Hala, 17 years old daughter, is planning to study oenology at UC Davis. She has been making her own wine since the age of 13. Mira would like to study marketing in order to promote –the product –. As for Yara, her passion for the fields will lead her to study agronomy. At the age of 40, Asaad decided to refine his love to winemaking by pursuing one of the most respected academic programs in the field of winemaking at the University of California-Davis. He is now a certified winemaker.
One of the main characteristics of Batroun Mountains wine is that it is made from grapes grown organically and certified by IMC. IMC (Instituto Mediterraneo di Certificazione) is the certifying institute that controls the quality of grapes and wines produced by Batroun Mountains. Thus the grapes are carefully selected and the whole process of *winemaking respects the conditions and criteria of organic *winemaking. Katy and Assad do believe that a quality bottle of wine is made in the vineyards and not in the winery and for that reason they grow their grapes. The Harks believe that seeking outside consultancy is crucial in improving the quality of wines in Lebanon. This is a good way to benefit from the consultant broad experience in this field.
“On the international level, the only competitive characteristic about the Lebanese wine is its quality,” Assad mentions. Due to high production costs, the very expensive energy consumption and the absence of trade strategies entrepreneurs are discouraged to venture in this field.
“International fairs and exhibitions do help a lot in promoting the Lebanese wine,” Katy highlights. She stresses on the fact that the “Lebanese Wine Day” events,organized by the Agriculture Ministry that took place in Germany and France, were a big success for all the Lebanese wine producers, hoping that such initiatives will take place more often because the international market offers the best opportunities for Lebanese wine makers.
It is very important to mention that the cooperation between the wineries of the “La Route des Vins du Nord” helps them provide the best experience for the visitors and a good business opportunity for all the nine producers in Batroun district: it is about a strategy of cooperation in order to create a healthy competition.
Starting with 3,000 bottles in their first year, the story of passion and success lead the Hark family to produce 50,000 bottles of wine each year. 50% of the production is exported to France, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Congo and the USA. You may find Batroun Mountains wine in Lebanon at the winery in Batroun, in most of the organic products store and in many restaurants in Lebanon as well.