October 14, 2015 Keserwan Lebanon Middle East

Chateau Musar Celebrates its 85th Anniversary

On October 6, 2015, Château Musar celebrated its 85 years of winemaking establishment in the cellars of the Mzar Palace in Ghazir, where the great Lebanese wine was born. In a fairyland of lights and in the presence of many officials, public figures and lovers of Lebanese and foreign wines, the atmosphere was made special by a tour in the halls of the Palace and an exhibition of photographs and objects featuring the history of Château Musar since its creation in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, which is in itself inseparable from the history of Lebanon. 

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The true terroir wine has gained an international reputation under the leadership of Serge Hochar, in the late 70’s. Château Musar offered its guests on the occasion of this anniversary, a tasting of its classic and new tastes, a genuine expression of the complexity and richness of the terroir, combined with the talent of the winemakers.

Cocktail was prepared by Hotel Bristol who created marvelous creations.

Today, this family business is headed by Ronald Hochar, partner of his brother Serge for more than 55 years mainly in marketing and sales, and now ensures its continuity with the help of the family’s 3rd generation represented by Gaston, Marc and Ralph Hochar.

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THE HISTORY OF CHÂTEAU MUSAR

The only Lebanese wine produced by the same family for so many decades, Château Musar celebrates this year its 85 years of existence.

Château Musar was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar. In 1959, his son Serge took over the winemaking and handled the production of wines. He also studied oenology at the University of Bordeaux under the patronage of Emile Peynaud and Jean Ribereau-Gayon. He imposed his style by introducing a unique wine with a distinctive character that would be, in the following years, celebrated by critics and great wine lovers.

Serge was followed a little later by his brother Ronald who joined the company in 1962, in charge of marketing and sales. During the early years, the Chateau Musar production was fully sold to the Lebanese market. When the civil war started in 1975, Château Musar was threatened to lose its only market. The two brothers, Serge and Ronald Hochar, decided to search for new markets for Musar wines. Determined to make Château Musar known to a new audience of wine lovers, they followed a long route that lead them all over the world. In the late 70’s, they decided to establish their own distribution company in the UK to spread the message of this unique wine, instead of going through the big distribution companies’. The adventure still continues today.

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The wine gained its first international recognition in 1979, at the Bristol Wine Fair in which the recognition of the eminent critic Michael Broadbent propelled Musar in the spotlights and made it almost an object of worship. Driven by his passion for his wines and his communicative determination, Serge Hochar was the first to be designated in 1984 "Man of the Year" by Decanter magazine, a distinction recognized worldwide today. Château Musar wines continue to raise the most praise.

Serge was much more than a wine producer and much more than the driving force of the most famous Lebanese wine. Although far from being an ascetic, he was moved by a deeply spiritual temperament while still being frankly mischievous. Always funny, he gave at the same time the impression of a deep knowledge of the human nature and an understanding of things beyond superficial appearances.

However, the recent departure of Serge didn’t leave the company orphan. His brother and comrade for over fifty years, Ronald, perpetuates the legacy and philosophy of Château Musar taking up the reins as president of the company. With the presence on board of the third generation, Château Musar continues its philosophy: to produce a natural wine with exceptional qualities that expresses the terroir and the talent of the winemakers. Gaston, son of Serge, who joined the company in the early 90’s, learned the art of winemaking from his father, and handles the production since the mid 2000’s. His brother Marc and his cousin Ralph support him in external markets. "My father was a visionary who anticipated the future on more than one scale. His insistence to convey the philosophy and expertise of Musar to the third generation to ensure its continuity is the best proof of that”, said Gaston Hochar, and continued: "We are committed to ensure the future development of Château Musar and mark the company with the footprints of its third generation, in accordance with the philosophy of Serge. We have already started working on new projects. But as we are used at Musar, we take all the time it needs to do it right."

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Today, Château Musar is a label known and recognized internationally.

  • Owners: Ronald Hochar, Gaston Hochar, Marc Hochar and Ralph Hochar.
  • Winemakers: Serge Hochar in collaboration with Gaston Hochar and Tarek Sakr until 2014. Gaston Hochar and Tarek Sakr since 2015.
  • Vineyards: 180 hectares
  • Terroir: The vineyards of Château Musar are located in the Bekaa Valley, near the villages of Kefraya and Aana, while the winery is located in Ghazir, 25 km north of Beirut. The Bekaa receives 300 days of sunshine a year and records an annual rainfall of 500 to 1000mm. Located 900m above sea level, the Bekaa has a Mediterranean climate. The terroir is mostly gravel with a limestone base. The Lebanese white grapes vines grown in Mount Lebanon, are 60 to 120 years old. They grow at an altitude of 1200m.
  • Annual production: Between 50,000 and 60,000 cases (all wines included), roughly 600,000 to 700,000 bottles.
  • Grown varieties: Red: Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache. White: local varieties Obaideh and Merwah, and Chardonnay, Viogner, Vermentino.
  • "Organic," "sustainable" and other certificates: certified organic vineyards from IMC/CCPB since 2006.
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