About

Negev Agricultural and Wine Tourism

Negev vineyards and wineries exhibit that when ancient traditions and pioneering agricultural innovations are aptly coupled, fine wine can be produced even under the harshest desert conditions.

The burgeoning wineries emerging from the majestic desert landscapes position the Negev as an alluring global tourism destination, offering a new regional engine for growth. 

The Negev as a wine tourism destination

Branding and positioning the Negev as a wine tourism destination is part of the Agritourism initiative of the Merage Foundation – Israel. The overarching goal is to transform the Negev into an international tourist destination for Agritourism to ignite demographic and economic growth, strengthen the agricultural sector, and nourish connection to the land.

In collaboration with public and private partners, the program seeks to develop the Agritourism ecosystem in the Negev and enhance the visitor experience. 

We decided to focus first on wine tourism, given its great potential for contirubition to the sector and region. In 2020 the foundation established the Negev Winery Consortium to mobilize regional vineyards and wineries as a community. The consoritum aims to improve visitor experience, increase sales, and foster connections with neighboring tourist sites.
Core to the mission is assisting farmers to improve their offerings for tourists, thereby helping them develop additional revenue streams. 

On an individual level, each farmer receives assistance to develop their tourism product, implement their pilot, and receive ongoing mentorship. On a regional level – we host group meetings, and invest in advertising and marketing.

An additional aspect of our efforts is the culinary component, which is part and parcel of wine tourism and essential in developing regional tourism.  In a joint forum with culinary businesses in the Negev, we can create a sustainable local model and develop the field.

Click here for more information.

Download Negev Winery and Vineyard Map

Negev Wine Consortium

The Negev Wine Consortium was founded in 2020 by Merage Foundation Israel as part of its Negev Wine and Agritourism program , in order to promote demographic and economic growth, strenghten the regional agricultural sector and nourish the connection to the land.
The Negev Wine Consortium is a platform for collaboration and growth for vineyards and wineries in the Negev, working to strengthen them as a community, improve the visitor experience, increase sales, and foster connections with neighboring tourist sites.

The Negev Wine Consortium is accompanied by a professional consultant – Guy Haran – CEO of Vinspiration – Wine and Inspiration specializing in wine and culinary tourism around the world. Guy is the founder of the wine podcast: Wine is Basic and the author of the book: A Wine Journey – An Israeli Adventure covering wine tourism in Israeli wineries.

To actualize the potential of agricultural and wine tourism in the Negev, Merage Foundation Israel works on the following fronts, with primary focus on fostering meaningful and interactive vineyard and winery experiences:

Individual business consulting and professional training for vinters and winemakers

Forum for peer-learning and knowledge sharing

Series of agricultural festivals in the region

Advocacy efforts to lessen beuraucratic and statutory hurtles

Positioning Negev as global agriculture and wine tourism destination

The consortium meets every other month at a member winery, for updates, professional development, as well as group thinking and planning. Furthermore, consortium members participate in tours and events that provide them with professional development opportunities in order to advance wine tourism in the Negev:

Negev Wine Consortium delegation to Piemonte, Italy 2022

In February 2022, a delegation of vintners and winemakers embarked on a learning tour of Piemonte, Italy.

Over five days, the delegation learned about Agritourism, wine, and cuisine in Baralo and Barbaresko.

Members returned from the tour motivated, with deeper understanding of how to develop their business, and gained perspective on the importance of local pride, shared personal stories, and visitor experience with the unique terroir.

Negev Winery Booth at 2022 Sommelier Convention

In March 2022, for the first time in the 19 year history of the professional Sommelier convention, the Negev Wine Consortium openned a Negev Winery booth at the Tel Aviv Culture Palace.

Eight member wineries participated under a unified banner – ‘Negev – Wine from the Desert.’ To celebrate the partnership, a 25 liter barrel of 2019-2020 ‘Negev Blend’ made with red wines from throughout the Negev was served to visitors.

The barrel used was from Bourgogne, France where the new harvest is celebrated by regional wineries coming together, each with one bottle of Pinot Noir, which is then mixed together with all the others.

Join Negev Wine Consortium

Do you own a winery or avineyard in the Negev? Interested in hearing more about the project?

Please fill in the form and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

Merage Foundation Israel

Merage Foundation Israel was founded by the David and Laura Merage Foundation located in Denver Colorado, USA. Since 1998, the Merage Family has been working in Israel with the goal of strengthening a prosperous and cohesive Israeli society through a variety social and economic endeavors. Merge Foundation Israel works to incubate and accelerate circles of change—those who are strengthened, strengthen others, thus leading the way in promoting prosperity for Israel and wellbeing for all its citizens.

OUR TEAM

Nicole Hod Stroh
Executive Director, Merage Foundation Israel

Noah Schwartz
Negev AgriTourism Manager, Merage Foundation Israel
Negev Wine Consortium Manager

Guy Haran
Wine Tourism Consultant
CEO, Vinspiration

Ph.D Shahar Shilo
Negev Tourism Consultant
Director, Negev Desert Tourism Management Organization (NDTMO)

Amir Halevi
International Tourism Consultant