Join us on a unique 4 hour experience blending a rugged jeep tour in the Ramon Crater with fine wine tasting in a boutique desert vineyard – including a personal meeting and talk with the winegrower and visionary.
But before we open the bottle, let’s start with some background…
Surprisingly, the story of the wine production in the Israeli Negev Desert highlands dates back almost 2000 years ago – to the time of the Nabatean culture – after they lost their control over the Incense Route and ceased to be nomadic. At this stage, the VERY pragmatic Nabatean people abandoned their three strict rules of life (never to build a house, never to plant a tree and never to drink wine), and turned from a nomadic culture to an agricultural One. As such, they began experimenting and discovering outstanding methods of water manipulation, enabling them to cultivate the dry desert terrain to a fertile land on which they grew grape vines, almond trees, olives, figs, barley and other crops. These were used both for their own consumption and for commercial sales, mainly to the local legion of the Roman Empire. Naturally, the grapes were used to produce wine, which was bottled in clay jugs and left to age in caves.
Among the irrigation techniques the Nabateans developed were agricultural terraces that were built across wide river beds, dividing them into separate plots. The terraces were built with a slight reverse incline and had two main functions: one was to break the force of the rushing flash-flood water and prevent it from uprooting the crops, and the other was to keep a bigger amount of water on the separate plots and for a longer time, allowing it to seep slowly into the earth and penetrate deeper into the roots of the plants.
The wine that the Nabateans produced from the vines growing on these terraces is said to be exceptional and jugs of it were found in archaeological excavations throughout the Mediterranean.
Amazingly, many of the Nabatean terraces are still in tact today and can be found throughout the Negev Desert.
Over the past 20 years new and impressive agricultural initiatives have sprung in the Negev resulting in quite a few modern farms which in many cases are (excitingly) reusing the ancient, 2000 years old, Nabatean terraces – with the main crops being grape vines for the wine industry.
Due to the unique conditions of this desert area, including the soil salinity, the extreme temperature differences between day and night and the controllable irrigation, the Negev highland grapes hold unique tastes and properties which winemakers are raving about and boutique wineries all around Israel are eager to have in the best of their blends.