The Wardys are the fourth generation of wine and arak makers -- wines and spirits have been intertwined in our lives since 1881 when our great-grandfather Rachid Cortas started a winery in Zahle.
Each member of our family -- the neighboring Cortases and Wardys -- grew to become accomplished wine and arak makers -- It's in our blood.
In the 1930s Toufiq Wardy moved to the city of Aleppo in Syria to become a partner in a distillery. Habib Cortas followed, taking his wife and two young children for what was supposed to be a stay of a few months that ended up being a lifetime. They went on to establish arak “Cortas & Wardy” in Aleppo and made wine and other spirits.
Our father George Wardy immigrated to Australia in 1945, where he and his brothers opened a restaurant in Toowoomba, Queensland, then a cake shop in Sydney. Our mother Marleine Cortas was born in Aleppo.
George returned to Zahle in 1959 and Toufiq arranged the marriage of his cousin George to Marleine the daughter of his partner. In a sense, we are the products of that winery in Aleppo.
In 1971 George and his older brother Aziz bought the Abou Raad shares of arak “Gantous & Abou Raad”, Lebanon’s leading arak brand which was created in 1893, and established with the Gantous family “Solifed” (Société Libanaise de fermantation et de distillation).
The Wardys purchased the Gantous’ shares in both companies in 1996 and began producing wine under the “Domaine Wardy” label as well as “Arak Wardy” and then in 2017 George and Marleine's children bought the complete shares of “Solifed” and “Gantous & Abou Raad”.
So the family business came full circle. Back to Zahle and to the humble origins of the winery our forebears opened so long ago.