Chateau Musar, located in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar. In 1959, after studying oenology at the University of Bordeaux, his son Serge became winemaker. Serge spent 18 years perfecting the formula for Chateau Musar’s Red and was chosen as Decanter Magazine’s first ‘Man of the Year’ in 1984 for his dedication to producing superb quality wines during Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990). Recognition from Michael Broadbent, at the 1979 Bristol Wine Fair, threw Musar into the international spotlight and helped create a cult-like following. A legend of a winemaker, often heralded as a philosopher of wine, Serge passed away in 2014. The Hochar family remains committed to his legacy. Serge’s son Gaston manages the day-to-day running of the Chateau Musar winery, while his other son Marc handles its commercial aspects. Ronald Hochar, like his brother Serge, was encouraged to participate at Musar from an early age: both grew up washing bottles and working at the winery before pursuing their separate paths within the business. Having studied law, Ronald’s good-humored contributions on the commercial and logistical fronts (against huge odds he kept Musar’s trucks running during the war) remain vital to the business. Ronald’s son Ralph worked with the on-trade sector in the United Kingdom until early 2017, and is now focused on South East Asia from Chateau Musar’s UK office.
Region: Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Year Founded: 1930
Proprietors: The Hochar Family
Winemaker: Gaston Hochar & Tarek Sakr
Size of property: 150 Hectares (371 acres)
Amount of Property Planted: 150 hectares (371 acres)
Terroir: The vineyards of Chateau Musar are located in the Bekaa Valley and in Mount Barouk, around Kefraya and Aana, which is about a two-hour drive from the winery in Ghazir, just north of Beirut. The Bekaa Valley receives an average of 300 days of sunshine annually, and 1,000–2,000mm (39–78 inches) of rain per year. The Bekaa has a Mediterranean climate and an altitude of more than 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level. The soil is predominately gravelly with a limestone base. The white vines are 100–150 years old, and are located at 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level.
Annual Production: 58,000 cases (all wines)/696,000 bottles
Varieties Cultivated: Red: Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah & Grenache. White: Obaideh (a native of Chardonnay) and Merwah (a native variant of Semillion), Chardonnay, Viognier & Vermentino.
Organic/Sustainable/Other Certifications: Organic Vineyards Certified By IMC