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The Wardys are 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.
Arak Gantous Abou Raad was established in Zahle in 1893 and for decades has been the best-selling arak in Lebanon.
Each member of our family -- the neighbouring 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 emigrated 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 share of Arak Gantous & Abou Raad, and created Solifed S.A.R.L (Societe Libanese de Fermantation et Distillation).
In 1996 the Wardys purchased the Gantous’s shares in the company and began producing wine under the Domaine Wardy brand as well as Arak Wardy, and in 2017 Georges 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.