The Heliopolis Cooperative of Deir el Ahmar gathers a group of farmers from 11 villages in North Bekaa who joined hands in 1999 to establish the largest and most successful cooperative in Lebanon. With the aim to replace the culture of illicit crops (cannabis) with grapevines for wine and Arak production, they achieved socio-economic change by being one of the few Lebanese cooperatives to have an upper hand in pricing their produce in the local market. Today, there are around 250 farmer members cultivating around 250 hectares of vineyards.
The farmers’ initiatives did not stop there, but went further to explore local wine production. Instead of selling raw materials to different Lebanese wine producers, two young and dynamic farmers from the cooperative gave birth to their village’s first wine by establishing the brand “Couvent Rouge”, a modern and sophisticated winery that bears the name of its village.