West Bank: from beer to wine, the 'Vinfest' of Taybeh

A festival to present high-quality wines

02 March, 10:39

    Palestinian winemakers want to make themselves known Palestinian winemakers want to make themselves known

    (by Michele Monni) (ANSAmed) - RAMALLAH, MARCH 2 - From beer to wine, the small town of Taybeh, in the occupied Palestinian Territories, re-opens to tourists and connoisseurs. But this time, the occasion is provided by its famous beer - produced in the first and only brewery in the Middle East - to present to the public 'Nadim', a new series of high-quality wines. The initiative is called 'Vinfest' and follows the lines of traditional wine festivals mixing music, culture and, naturally, a glass of red.

    ''We should invest on this to make Palestine a competitive country that attracts investments'', Nadim Khouri, co-owner and creator of the festival, told ANSA. ''Unfortunately, until Israeli occupation will prevent this, we can only get ready for that moment''.

    Khouri has been producing since 1994 three different qualities of beer - lager, dark and amber - named after the Christian town of Taybeh and has successfully conquered a good size of the Palestinian market, as well as exported to Israel and Europe.

    The grapes harvested in the villages of Taybeh, Aboud and Birzeit (where one of the most important Palestinian universities is based) are Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah and, since last November, are already sold at many Palestinian liqueur stores and restaurants (those that serve wine). 'Nadim' is the name of the owner but also means in Arabic 'drinking companion' and has a strong connection with traditional Arab music: in particular, with legendary Egyptian artist Ummm Kulthum who, in her famous song, 'Al-atlal', sings about ''Nadim''. But in Taybeh's cellars are not only the aspirations and passions of Nadim and his wife Maria. A key role is played by son Canaan who - after graduating from Harvard University - is taking control of the family business and has already started experimenting, with local farmers, a Palestinian version of the Sauvignon Blanc to be presented in the spring.

    Italy is also present with wine-making machinery. ''Italy sets the example in wines. We hope one day to be able to sell our products there'', said Maria.

    Vinfest opened on February 27 at the Taybeh Golden hotel with the participation of local musicians, including the Mina Band and the jazz music of Joseph Dugmaq, who teaches saxophone at the Edward Said school of music in Ramallah. The work of leading Palestinian set designers, Nabil Anani and Tyser Barkat will also be on display. Art, music and good wine appear to be the successful ingredients for the new adventure of the Khouri family and the small Christian town of Taybeh.(ANSAmed).

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