Friday, March 23, 2018

Palestinian village celebrates first wine festival

By Ruairi Henchy - March 04, 2015
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Taybeh Beer]

The village of Taybeh near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank held its first-ever wine festival last weekend.

Hundreds of people from around the West Bank, Jerusalem and present day Israel converged on the small village on Friday and Saturday evening to sample the wine, to eat and to hear some local Palestinian bands. 

The Palestine Monitor spoke over the phone to Madees Khoury, who works at the brewery and winery in Taybeh. “The event was very successful, it was a busy weekend, a lot of people came and I think people really enjoyed the wine… We hope it’s going to be an annual event,” she said.

The Taybeh winery was established in August 2013 and has been selling red Merlot and Syrah wines throughout the West Bank since. During last weekend’s “Vinfest,” they launched their new white Sauvignon Blanc.

The village is well known throughout the Middle East, not only for its historical significance but also due to the brewery that was founded there in 1994 by Nadim Khoury. Taybeh brewery was the first microbrewery in the Middle East, and since its inception, the beers have won international acclaim. Taybeh beer is a firm customer favourite throughout the West Bank and present day Israel.

Nadim’s son, Canaan, recently returned from studying mechanical engineering and material science at Harvard University, and decided that he wanted to expand the family business into wine production. Having received training from an Italian winemaker, Canaan crushed the first red grapes from nearby Aboud and Birzeit to make wine in August 2013. With the success of the red, he began experimenting with white grapes, and eventually began bottling the new Sauvignon Blanc in early 2015.

Madees explained that the successful expansion of the business has not been without obstacles. “Obviously it’s not easy doing business under occupation… There are many difficulties and restrictions so it’s not easy but it’s not impossible either,” she said. For example, seen as Palestine doesn’t have a port or an airport, all exports must pass through Israeli checkpoints, being unloaded and reloaded which brings many additional costs and takes more time, making it extremely difficult for Palestinian produce to compete in international markets.

Madees said that the family’s positive attitude is what has helped them overcome the difficulties and successfully grow the business. “You can’t keep blaming the occupation, you can’t let it stop you. You have to be determined”, she outlined.

The family have many plans to continue to expand the business and build on their success. “They [Madees’ father Nadim and brother Canaan] have high hopes for a better future and a peaceful future. We all have high hopes for the business, Insha’Allah.” 

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