Modern irrigation systems have made wine cultivation in the Negev Desert a viable option for winemakers.Other than its extreme dryness, the Negev makes an ideal locale for vineyards. Its soils are surprisingly loamy, and its temperature fluctuations from daytime heat to cooler nights are valued for tender grapes.
Mega winemaker Carmel pioneered modern wine grape growing in the Negev, with the establishment of the Ramat Arad vineyard in 1988. Its most famous winery today, however, is the the award-winning Yatir Winery. This winery lies close to the Dead Sea and at the foot of one of Israel’s most famous archaeological sites, Tel Arad, the ruins of a 3000-year-old Canaanite city. Established in 2000, Yatir released its first wines four years later. Subsequent years have seen numerous awards bestowed upon the winery, which is particularly noted for its sauvignon blancs and its cabernet merlot blends.
Several other Negev desert wineries are found along Route 40, between Mitzpe Ramon and Be’er Sheva. Tourists will enjoy combining winery tours with desert sightseeing.