Wineries, Farms, and Archeological Wonders on the Negev Spice Route
Ben Gurion always believed that “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.” Today this is proving to be truer than ever as the ancient Nabatean spice route is being revitalized with wine and cheese makers, and farmers producing amazing hand-crafted goods, despite the harsh desert climate.
Take some time from your tour of Israel to get to know the incredible Southern part of the country. The road from Be’er Sheva to Mitzpe Ramon is home to archeological wonders as well as farms and wineries that utilize modern drip irrigation technology.
The Nabataeans may be most famous for building Petra, but their reach extended throughout the Middle East and the ancient city of Avdat in the Negev was an important strategic point on their famous trade route. You may recognize this as a well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, a fun destination for the whole family, Avdat is an amazing example of Nabataean city planning and even boasts an ancient wine press and wine cellars in pristine condition.
For some Israeli history with a glass of wine, head to Sde Boker, the kibbutz that is best known for being David Ben Gurion’s desert home. Visit the memorial and museum dedicated to Israel’s first prime minister before taking a tour of the winery that was established on the kibbutz in 1999. Working in collaboration with a local agricultural college, they have developed methods for growing wine grapes in the desert and now produce four red varietals and two white.
When you need a nibble, head to one of the nearby goat cheese farms for some samples. Kornmehl and Naot are two favorites. Both offer a wonderful variety of goat cheeses, milk, and yogurt. Kids (your children, not baby goats) will love seeing the animals out back, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be there for feeding and milking time. Naot also carries a number of other local Negev products, like olive oil, beer, wine, and honey, for sale.
Go tour – and taste – what the Negev has to offer. Where else can you combine beautiful desert landscape with archeological wonders and a gourmet experience?