Swirl’s PR maven, Madeleine Waters of CoCo, has been visiting and working with Lebanon for years, after being introduced to the country and its wines by child-hood friend, Michael Karam. Madeleine brought together and ran the Wines of Lebanon generic campaign, and still works to promote and support Lebanese wine producers today. She writes:

The horrific events in Beirut earlier this month have put Lebanon in the spotlight, once again for all the wrong reasons.

I have been visiting Lebanon for over 10 years since I started working with the country’s wine producers.  As anyone who has visited Lebanon will testify, it’s a country that gets under your skin.  The warmth and generosity of the people, the hospitality, the food, and of course the wines – all of which couldn’t be further from the image of terrorists and war often associated with the country.

Talking of the wines feels trivial in the light of the current crises facing the country –  banking restrictions  hyper inflation and now the catastrophic expolsion that has destroyed large parts of Beirut leaving many dead, injured and homeless.  But wine is Lebanon’s most important export, and therefore one that is bringing crucial ‘fresh dollars’ into the country at this time of crisis.  So buying Lebanese wine really is something you can do to help.

There are also several fundraising initiatives underway, many wine-related, should you wish to help in other ways.

The Wine Society has created a special Lebanese mixed case which sold out in just 15 minutes (but more is on the way).  Master of Wine Emma Dawson (@emandwine) is running a tasting of Chateau Ksara wines with Lebanese wine expert Michael Karam and George Sara of Chateau Ksara on 27th August at 7.30pm (email: emmadawsonmw@gmail.com for more information), and wine lover Mike Clark is holding An Oenolgoical Journey with Chateau Musar – a tasting of Musar vintages going back to 2000, both in aid of the Lebanese Red Cross. Elizabeth Gabay MW and Sumita Sarma featured Lebanese rosé as part of their I Love Rock n Rosé Insta live series, raising money for Impact Lebanon.

I felt the need to do something myself to raise money for the city that has a special place in my heart, so decided to organise a wine auction.  I had thought that I would get a few nice wines from my contacts in the trade and raise a few hundred pounds.  We now have nearly 70 lots (and counting), and I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of people both within the trade and private individuals who have pulled amazing bottles out of their cellars, put together incredible tasting experiences, wine dinners and vineyard stays.

Now all we need is some wine lovers to bid on these amazing lots and raise some serious cash for Beirut.

The auction runs from 09.00 on Friday 28th August – 18.00 on Monday 31st August 2020.


Instagram: @bidforbeirut