Wine and Nature Tourism in the Negev Desert

August 24th 2012

Negev Desert 2 Wine and Nature Tourism in the Negev Desert

Although it makes up 60% of Israel’s landmass, the southern Negev desert is the least populated part of Israel. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, had great faith in this region and is famous for saying, “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.” Today people are living up to Ben Gurion’s hopes and using a combination of ancient techniques and modern technology to create thriving wineries in the Arava flatlands. Enjoy the natural beauty of the south along with historical sites, family-run farms, wineries and more.

Yatir

Founded in 2000, Yatir Winery was built right on the 3,000-year-old Tel Arad archeological site in the Northeastern Negev, home to an ancient Canaanite city.

Surrounded by the Yatir Forest, Israel’s largest planted forest, the winery is in a unique location right on the border of the arid northern Negev and the lush Judean Hills. Visitors are welcome by appointment and can check out the winery and bottling plant as well as sample some wine. While you’re here, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to one of Israel’s biggest concentrations of tourist attractions at the Dead Sea.

Sde Boker

Continue south to Sde Boker, the kibbutz that became famous for being David Ben Gurion’s desert home. Pay your respects to Ben Gurion at the memorial and museum dedicated to him, and then head to the adjacent Sde Boker Winery.

Established in 1999, they have collaborated with a local agricultural college to develop modern methods for successfully growing grapes in the desert. Today they produce four red wines and two white wines, which you can sample in their shop.

Boker Valley

Further along Route 40, which has been branded as the “Spice Route” and “Wine Way,” Boker Valley Winery can be found at the family-run Nahal Boker Farm. In addition to wine, they also sell local olive oil, have an excellent restaurant, and offer accommodation complete with an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Be sure to visit the nearby remains of the ancient Nabataean city of Avdat, whose ancient wine presses prove that winemaking has a long history in the region.

Carmey Avdat

A boutique winery producing just about 6,000 bottles per year, their gorgeous wines can only be found on premises (although they do ship to the US!). Built on terraces that are part of a 1,500-year-old agricultural settlement, the winery utilizes an ancient irrigation system which takes advantage of the winter flash floods.

Tastings are conducted amidst wine barrels, and their farm store offers a range of Negev products. After your visit here, continue south to the town of Mitzpe Ramon, home to the world’s largest erosion crater.


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