Yatir Winery, Nana Winery, Carmi Avdat

The southern region, and the Negev in particular, is being revitalized with the flourishing of business and tourism in the region – even during this period. But the restaurants are still closed and those who want to go for a walk and combine the trip with wine and some snacks, can do so in one of the wineries spread across the south.

The south of the country was a growing area of ​​vines thousands of years ago. There are quite a few intriguing archeological sites in the area, where evidence of thriving vineyards, winepresses and even wine grape barns has been found.

winery winery

La Pora Blanche Winery

(Photo: PR)

When we think of Israeli wine, we usually encrypt directly to the Golan Heights or the Ella Valley area, but one of the industries that attracts tourism and culinary enthusiasts to the south – is the wine industry. If in the past growing vineyards in the Negev region was considered a craze for individuals, today there are many vineyards in the area, which produce some of the quality wines that we used to drink in restaurants around the country.

We set out on a journey to the prominent wineries in the south of the country, where you can visit, taste some wines, snack on cheeses – and in general, enjoy the amazing weather and get to know one of the least known wine regions in the country.

The Yatir region in the southern Judean hills has a rich history of wine production. Those who travel in the area will be impressed by an extensive winepress system, which testifies to the existence of a well-developed wine industry more than 2,500 years ago, during the days of the First Kingdom of Judah.

(Photo: Yatir Winery)

In the period between the destruction of the Second Temple and the beginning of the Muslim period, a large Jewish settlement center existed in this area. The farmers made their living mainly from growing and processing grapes and olives, and the area was known as one of the best vine-growing areas for the wine industry, and from here the wines were exported to Egypt, Rome and throughout Israel.

Yatir Winery was built at the foot of the citadel in the Jewish town of Tel Arad, 10 minutes from the vineyards located in the Yatir Forest. The small winery was established in 2000, as a joint venture of the region’s winemakers and the Winegrowers’ Association, who discovered the extraordinary potential inherent in the Yatir region. Today the winery produces about 150,000 bottles – it is the largest winery in the southern region, and therefore also became the symbol of the region, especially after its wines regularly receive high marks and praise from visitors each year.

This year, after 20 years of operation, the winery is also launching a new brand: “South By Yatir” – wines based on familiar varieties from selected vineyards in the south of the country, bringing wine lovers the uniqueness of the southern habitat.

The winery’s staff, including the chief winemaker – Eran Goldwasser, has expanded the winery’s habitat boundaries to additional vineyards located in Ramat Arad, the southern Judean Mountains and Mitzpe Ramon, thus obtaining rooted, warm, pleasant and accessible wines. In the first phase of the launch, the South series includes two wines for NIS 80: South Red – dry red wine and South white – dry white wine.

Where to sit for a picnic
Among the Jerusalem pine trees of the Yatir Forest are today scattered apple orchards, cherries, nectarines, and small, well-kept plots of vineyards. You should take your bottle of wine for a picnic on the wooden tables overlooking the beautiful Yatir Reservoir, which helps irrigate the orchards and surrounding vineyards. For those interested in embarking on a short walking route, a beautiful, regulated and marked landscape leads to it, ending near the settlement of Amasa.

To arrange a visit: 08-6212255

La Pora Blanche Winery is a relatively young winery, headed by winemaker Bruno Darmon, which has won critical acclaim and medals. About a month ago, at the height of the Corona period, after a mass recruitment project, they opened a new visitor center in the Mount Hebron area – and an online store.

The winery sells its wines directly to the public (through an online store or visitor center) – and also to restaurants and hotels – but it does not sell to wine shops or marketers in order to save an unnecessary brokerage fee, in their eyes, to local wine consumers.

Fertile Blanche Winery, Beit YatirFertile Blanche Winery, Beit Yatir

(Photo: Tzachi Kiberstein)

Archaeological remains have been found in the Mount Hebron area, indicating the activity of many wineries in the area. Among other things, potsherds of ancient wine jugs with the emblem of the kingdom of Judah were discovered there.

A visit to the new visitor center of La Pora Blanche Winery includes a tour of the production hall, and explanations of the production of the various wines and processes, tasting of six types of wines accompanied by a personal cheese platter (due to current restrictions, visitor groups are limited to eight participants). Of two staff members of the winery. When the guidelines are updated – the winery will operate accordingly).

Where to sit for a picnic
Groups arriving by prior arrangement can book sumptuous breakfasts and excursions in the area. The trip begins with wine tasting at the winery and continues following agriculture, history, historical sites, landscapes, fruit picking, horses and more – all in the area of ​​Masada Yehuda. A short distance away you will find Kerem Carmel, Susya, Mitzpe Yair and Mitzpe Abigail, where you can enjoy the view, the weather and the wine you took with you on the road.

To arrange a visit: 058-6619899

The vineyard at the Carmi Avdat farm was planted in 1999 and was one of the first vineyards to be planted in the Negev and a new and fascinating wine region began – the Negev Mountains. The vineyard was planted on the remains of an ancient vineyard 1,500 years old, and the ancient terraces came to life and contribute to the irrigation of the vineyard just as in ancient times.

Morning at Sde Ben Gurion CollegeMorning at Sde Ben Gurion College

Morning in the morning field

(Photo: Mickey Volokita, Nature and Parks Authority)

The first varieties to be planted were the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties – varieties that were estimated to be able to cope well with the harsh conditions in the area. Later Chardonnay, Viognier, Patty Verdot and Barbara were also planted. The winery produces 12 different types of wine in small series of 300-1,200 bottles.

Where to sit for a picnic
Carmi Avdat Winery is located at the Carmei Avdat Farm, on Road 40, about a half hour drive from Mitzpe Ramon. Not far from there is the Nahal Hovarim and Har Mahiyah route – two beautiful locations in the area, which are worth getting to know regardless of your picnic.

To arrange a visit: 052-2705328

Eran Raz, known as “Nana”, moved to Mitzpe Ramon in 2004 with his family. Believing in the special trout of the place, he began three years later the planting of the Nana vineyard at the top of Nahal Tzin, 800 meters above sea level.

This year, about 30 dunams of vineyards were planted, including the Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc varieties. At the beginning of 2014, he visited Kerem Niv Ben Yehuda, the owner of “Corners3” winery, in order to find quality wine grapes that represent the desert habitat, and then together they established Nana Winery.

Culinary tour in the Negev regionCulinary tour in the Negev region

(Photo: Lynn Levy)

It is recommended to arrange an hour-long tour of the winery that also includes tastings. The visitor center is open Sunday through Thursday at varying hours and on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The winery is closed on Saturday.

Where to sit for a picnic
The winery is located at the entrance to Mitzpe Ramon. A few minutes drive away is the crater – a perfect area for hiking and picnics. Those who are not interested in hiking can also stand on the cliff (at the foot of the Genesis Hotel), enjoy the view and the goats, open a bottle of wine and feel on the roof of the world, almost.

To arrange a visit: 054-4444037

A family boutique winery established in 1997 by Alon and Nira Tzadok. The first name of the winery was “Kadesh Barnea Winery” and later, with the expansion of production, a rebranding was done and it was given its new name – “Ramat Negev Winery”.

  Pioneer Sands Area  Pioneer Sands Area

(Photo: Yael Bohbot)

The winery produces about 200,000 bottles of wine in a variety of types and at different price levels. The winemaker of the winery is the eldest son of Nira and Alon Tzadok, Yogev.

During the visit and tasting you will receive comprehensive explanations about the wine, and you are guaranteed a wonderful tasting experience. You can also go on a longer visit, which includes a visit to the vineyard, which includes extensive explanations of the wine production process. The visit by prior arrangement.

Where to sit for a picnic

Ramat Negev Winery is located in Moshav Kadesh Barnea, about an hour’s drive from Be’er Sheva. Near the winery are Nahal Ruth and Nahal Nitzana (and also across the border Nitzana), and all you need is to just find yourself a nice cheap in the area and deploy a mat. Everything else nature and wine will do.

To arrange a visit: 08-6555849

The Kedma family boutique winery was established in 2010, and is the only winery in the country that uses huge earthenware jars as part of the wine production process. The winery combines ancient methods with modern technologies and up-to-date knowledge, and renews winemaking technologies that were common in the Land of Israel and around the world in ancient times.

(Photo: Ruth Slutskin)

The winery was established following extensive research conducted at sites around the world, in collaboration with Prof. Amos Hadas and in consultation with Dr. Arkady Papikian – one of the top winemakers in the country. All wines produced at the winery undergo fermentation and soaking in pottery jars imported from Georgia .

The winery is located in the village of Uriah in the Judean lowlands, a place known for the quality of its wines and vineyards as far back as the biblical period. An ancient winepress was found in the area where the winery was built, and in excavations made nearby, the remains of a settlement from the Byzantine, Roman and Hasmonean periods were discovered.

Where to sit for a picnic
During the Corona period it is not possible to keep tables or sit in the winery complex, nor are there tours and tastings. But, a few minutes away, you will find the President’s Forest, where you will find quite a few lovely corners to deploy a mat and enjoy a full day in nature.

To schedule a visit: 054-919-5156

Another individual farm was established in 2004 by the artist and winemaker, Erez Rota, and it too became part of the “Derech Hayin in Ramat Hanegev” project. Apart from the fine wines produced on site, you can also enjoy the wonderful sculpture garden located on the farm.

The vineyard of the farm was planted in Halutza sands, on the remains of ancient terraces that belonged to an Nabataean agricultural farm that operated on the site. The grapes of the vineyard are grown organically and irrigated by desalinated water, which comes from the Mediterranean. The varieties grown there are Merlot, Alexandroni Muscat, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, of which Rota produces about 10,000 bottles of wine a year.

You can arrange a tour and tasting at the farm and enjoy the great taste of the wines produced in the heart of the desert. The tour lasts about an hour and also includes a visit to the vineyard.

Where to sit for a picnic
Rota Winery Farm is located on Road 222, near Kibbutz Revivim, about a 40-minute drive from Be’er Sheva. Adjacent to the winery is Mitzpe Revivim, which was established in the 1940s. If you are already there, then it is worth visiting the olive groves, Golda Meir Park, and not giving up a short ascent to the Tali lookout point for a view of the Bir Asluj area. With a glass of wine in hand this is a perfect experience.

To schedule a visit: 054-496-8703

The winery of Kibbutz Neot Smadar produces organic wines from the grapes grown on the kibbutz. What is special about it is that the kibbutz’s vineyard is the southernmost vineyard in the country.

(Photo: Neot Smadar Archive)

The extreme conditions of the prairie climate, the lack of precipitation and the saline soil, create grapes here with a unique and great taste – as well as the wine produced from them. The varieties grown in Neot Smadar are Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Canelli, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz. The wines are produced in a natural and organic process, using only wild yeast.

Where to sit for a picnic
Neot Smadar Winery is located in Kibbutz Neot Smadar, a 45-minute drive from Eilat. In the area you will find Nahal Ya’alon, which is 15 km long, and is also suitable for walking, for a trip in a SUV and for cycling.

To arrange a visit: 054-9798962

The winery was established in 2002 in Moshav Shekef by Uri Shahaf. The distance from the settlement to the city where he lives – Eilat, made it difficult for him to make daily contact with the winery, so in 2006 he decided, after proper preparation and difficult deliberations, to move the winery in its entirety to Eilat. Currently, the Red Sea Winery is the southernmost winery in Israel.

(Photo: Lynn Levy)

Upon the move, Shahaf established the Tal farm from Moshav Carmi Yosef as a grape supplier. And so, in the vintage season, a seagull travels from Eilat (at night) loads the grapes harvested for him, and returns back to Eilat. This is where the long process of making a seagull’s wine begins. His wines consist mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and one other variety that he changes every year, so wine lovers can find new surprises there every time, such as wines from Sanjovese, Petit Syrah, Carignan or Shiraz grapes.

(Photo: Lynn Levy)

Where to sit for a picnic
Nahal Rodd, Har Yoash or the beach of Eilat – there are quite a few great picnic options waiting for you here, take advantage of them, it’s worth the trip.

To arrange a visit: 052-2704704