France, California, Germany, South Africa, Australia- a few of the many destinations you picture when you think of wine. Jordan? Not so much. But with a harsh, rocky, sandy soil that is heaven for vines, and endless dry, warm days with cool nights – wine production is actually a promising endeavor for the country. When looking back through history, Jordanian vineyards do not seem so silly. After all, the libertines churned out wine in Petra over 2000 years ago. Back in 1996, with a dream to grow world class quality wine in Jordan, Omar Zumot bought as much land as he could for grape cultivation. He planted his first vineyard in the town in Madaba, near the historic Saint George Church, delivering the name that graces the company’s wine label to this day.
Zumot grows numerous grape varieties, producing a wide range of both red and white wine, but no sparkling. The prized Cabernet Sauvignon is the darkest on offer, with Gewürztraminer a fan favorite. Aged in French oak barrels, the wines are completely organic, taking advantage of natural resources such as sheep, fish, and even owl to both fertilize the soil and keep away pests.
Brimming with knowledge and extremely enthusiastic, Zumot’s wine educator, Ernest Liniger, delivers a warning before you begin that “tasting wine is not rational. Drinking water is rational.” He is not a fan of tasting notes, wine ratings, or specialist wine magazines. Instead, Ernest advises you simply drink what you like, something that may or may not vary according to the situation. Wine drinking is and should be an individual process for everyone.
Zumot does not export wine, as the winery makes just enough to supply in-country demand – curious given the predominant religion of its residents. Winking an eye, Ernest alludes to the “high percentage of Catholic Muslims in Jordan,” and the growing appreciation for the beverage. Unfortunately, land availability and the ever present water shortage will keep Zumot from expanding too far. However, if you are looking for an unexpected but fun evening out in Amman, head to Zumot’s city location to taste a little bit of Jordan – be sure to buy a few bottles for your suitcase.