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Claudine and Michelle after bottling first bottles of Heya Still

OUR STORY

 

Hi, thank you for visiting our website and learning more about us. We are two mothers, Claudine Lteif and Michelle Chami, who share a passion for natural wine and ancestral wine making techniques. Our name Heya Wines actually means 'She' in Arabic and is a representation and appreciation of women who work hard in a male dominated industry to produce something they love, which in our case is natural wines including co-ferments. 

 

I am the wife of Eddie, winemaker at Mersel Wine (I got to meet some of you folks last year when I accompanied Eddie on a couple of Mersel market visits). Claudine is a dear friend and also a nutritionist so she is very meticulous with the science behind winemaking too, writing and measuring every intricate detail. 


We were originally neighbours and in a short amount of time we became very close friends like sisters. We both love being out in nature, we find gratitude in doing harvests, pruning and basically being close to the land. Whenever there was work to be done on the land, it was a given that both of us would head to the mountains and just get the job done. It was our way of hanging out and giving back to the land.

 

We also help at Mersel Wine with winemaking and so a couple of years ago we said lets make some small batches of wine just for fun. We wanted to learn more about the different flavor profiles of different grapes and since we also studied it in theory and we wanted to put theory into action. So at the winery we made small batches of wine and just shared them with friends and family. Friends and family thought they tasted so good and that we should make our own wines and sell them. We didn't feel we were ready then and still wanted to experiment some more, till last year Eddie said hey I think you are both ready, you have an open platform, use what you want at Mersel Wine till you get your feet on the ground and then build up on it, and so we not only took him up on the offer, we literally ran with it!

 

We both do everything from a to z, we even hand label and box our own wines. Our labels are also images we took out in the field of women we work with because we wanted it to be as natural and organic as possible - no photoshop, nothing fancy, nothing fake :)

The thing that also motivated us to make our own wines is when out in the field we felt women were not appreciated at all. Many of the women we work with wake up at 3am, they cook, they clean, they get everything ready for their family before leaving the house at 4am to go to harvest, they would come home and also attend to their families, they had no break and they were certainly not appreciated. Women get paid less than men on the field and so we said for our wines we want to pay them the same. We want to show them that at least we are ever-so-grateful for all their hard work, we want more women to come to the field and be surrounded by people that appreciate them. We hear their stories, we learn about their backgrounds, we sing and laugh together, and we have fostered really good relationships with these women, they jump at every opportunity to be with us whenever we need help. 

So this year we produced two wines which really are our babies because we put so much love and effort into making them. We made a conferment which is apples and Merwah (which is the Lebanese indigenous variety) . We made them both in sparkling and still. The apples were whole apples made in a carbonic maceration method and the Merwah is done through skin-contact, we called this wine Farha which means happiness because this wine brought us a lot of happiness, women bring happiness to people around them (a happy wife and mum is a happy home - we are the core :), the land makes us happy, so we felt Farha was the perfect name. 

We also produced a red whole cluster carbonic maceration red wine made of Grenache and Syrah, the wine is fermented and aged in an amphora. The name of this wine is Kanz. Kanz means treasure in Arabic, we felt that since its done through carbonic maceration the grape is like a treasure, our land is treasured, fermentation happens within the berry, so this wine is a treasure. 

The three wine types we made Farha (Still and Sparkling), Ward and Kanz are all not fined, not filtered, with minimal intervention, and minimal sulfur.

How we got to where we are

Claudine taking a picture of our Merwah grape for instagram
Foot stomping our whole cluster Kanz
Chilling with the girls after a long day of harvest
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