Embedded within a strong eastern tradition, the Johnny R. Saadé family draws, from its Levantine roots, a passion for challenges among which the renaissance of the ancient vineyards of the Orient.
The Saadé family, of Greek Orthodox Christian origins, is a typical representative of Levantine syncretism with roots in the ancient coastal city of Laodicea (modern Lattakia) as well as Antioch, Alexandria, Tripoli (Lebanon) and Mount Lebanon.
The Saadé family traces its mercantile roots to the 18th and 19th century with prominent representatives such as Gabriel Saadé (1854-1939) and Rodolphe Saadé (1900-1956).
With an initial involvement in commodities’ trading and various industries, the family developed maritime and land transport activities on the initiative of Johnny R. Saadé, Rodolphe’s son, in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and France.
Diversification was quick to follow with new activities in the wine making, tourism, real estate and financial fields.
Now the family’s businesses are managed by Johnny’s sons Karim and Sandro, and their adventure in the world of wine today represents the achievement of a long-standing family ambition. It is something that the family had been considering for years. Their father was always passionate about wine, say the brothers. “Bordeaux was his first favourite, and then later he fell in love with the Cotes du Rhone reds.”
It was in 1998 that the brothers first began to consider the options. In the first instance, they looked towards Bordeaux – the “promised land” – then they had second thoughts. The decision was taken: “We are going to do it right here in our own country.” Next came a long study to find the best land for their purposes. That would take four years for Syria and five years for Lebanon.
This patient approach reflects the philosophy that has guided the family in this project. “Wine has everything to do with the land.” Terroir came first, and the terroirs they eventually chose were virgin land in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley and, in Syria, one of the most ancient vinegrowing sites in the world.
Alongside Karim and Sandro stood Stéphane Derenoncourt, the great Bordeaux wine consultant who works with passionate and committed winegrowers all around the world.