The Negev Wine Route is something surprising! Amid the harsh desert scenery which dominates the landscape of southern Israel, a series of vineyards has been built over the last decade by a number of pioneering and dedicated idealistic people, who love their land, and together with state of the art drip irrigation technology, have grown vines and created wines where just a few years before, the idea would be unimaginable. The vineyards create some highly respectable and well received wines, and offer a very unusual experience for tourists exploring the desert.
The seemingly inhospitable landscape of the Negev Desert
The Negev Wine Route was established with the support of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council and the government, who provided the land on the basis that it would be accessible for tourists, and used for tourism related purposes. The wineries are part of a bigger series of such farms which stretch across the Ramat Hanegev Region and each offer something for tourists – accommodation, restaurants, cheese-making, olive-oil making, and, of course, wine-making.
The Negev Wine Route
Here are some of the wineries along the Negev Wine Route:
Sde Boker Winery
The first winery to open in the Negev, the Sde Boker Winery began fifteen years ago as an experiment led by Zvi Remek, a member of the Sde Boker kibbutz who studied agronomy in California before returning to his home. Having previously worked in the grape vines of the kibbutz, opening the winery was the start of a transition from simply growing produce in the Negev, to creating a high-value product from it. Slowly, the Sde Boker Winery expanded, and today is still modestly housed in the old communal laundry facility of the kibbutz. Combine a visit to Sde Boker and visit the home of Ben Gurion.
The Boker Valley Vineyard not only grows its own vines, but also offers visitors with the opportunity to taste many of the other wines produced in the Negev Wine Route – making it totally unique. Run by a couple of diverse origins, Moshe is from Eilat, and Hilda from the Netherlands, as well as the wines, they also sell local olive oil, wine, and olives, and offer beautiful accommodations in the heart of the desert.
Not all of the farms along the Negev Desert Wine route produce wine, but all produce some high quality produce originating form the Negev.
Carmey Har Hanegev
Just north of Mitzpe Ramon, and the famous makhtesh, Carmey Har Hanegev is a farm producing a wide range of natural desert produce – from olive oils and fruits, to amazing liquor using the produce of the farm, artwork, and more. The farm has camping and cabin facilities for overnight stays.