In 1997, a pioneering couple decided to establish a unique, different factory, a winery that will be based on local produce only. As part of an extraordinary brave step, the couple planted 2.47 acres of the very first Cabernet Sauvignon on their agricultural property in the desert, near Kadesh Barnea village. Needless to say, many wine experts were amazed by this move, claiming that it won´t be possible to grow quality grapes in the desert area. However, with their typical persistence and as people of vision, the couple decided to follow their hearts and ignore all doubters.
Once the grapevines reached maturity, the couples purchased a number of barrels, plastic containers and basic winemaking equipment. In 2000, the first desert wine was made, in a limited edition of 3,000 bottles while the rest of the produce was sold to one of the leading wineries in Israel. The small amount of wine ran out within 4 months and most of the purchasers were friends and family members. Following the enthusiastic reactions to the wine, the couple decided to plant an additional 2.47 acres of Merlot. During that year, Alon started making 5,000 bottles which again, ran out before the next grape harvest began.
In 2003, when the winery staff discovered that Alon was making wine in his own home, they were annoyed and gave Alon an ultimatum which was about to change the world of desert wine.
The winery staff demanded that Alon stop his private, small winemaking and sell them his crop. Alon is not a man that gives in to pressure and with endless faith he decided to plant another 2.47 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and began making wine from the entire existing vineyard, 15,000 bottles. Alon understood the commercial potential of making Kosher wine and that year he began to do so.
Alon understood very quickly that making wine is the more simple part of the equation, marketing it however, is a completely different story. During that period of time, Alon partnered up with a small marketing company. Kadesh Barnea Winery wines were marketed by a marketing company that specialized in boutique wines, the company failed to market the wines successfully and Alon decided to take action. Alon recruited his entire family in order to establish a business; this is how the first boutique family owned winery in the Negev, was created: Kadesh Barnea Winery.
Alon sent Yogev, his eldest son and spouse Eden, to study the secrets of winemaking from the world´s best professionals – the Italians. The young couple moved to Italy and began studying wine technology in the University of Florence. They studied in a foreign language for three years. Yogev and Eden completed their studies with honors and returned to Israel to provide the winery their professional knowledge that they have learned. Alon left the marketing company and appointed Gilad, his youngest son that had no experience in the field, to be the sole marketer of the winery. Nira, the mother of the family, was appointed Operational Manager of the winery, and the family began their journey to fulfill their dream – making quality wine from western Negev grapes.
By 2006, the small winery had made 25,000 bottles, selling all of them each year. In time, an additional marketing channel was opened and due to its Kosher certificate, the winery sold about 30% of its wines to the US, when the main consumers were American Jews. The rest of the wine was sold in the winery, in restaurants and leading wine stores.
In 2006, upon Yogev and Eden´s return to Israel from their studies abroad, the following actions took place: The winery staff planted additional 7.41 acres of land. This time, since research and development were never done, the intention was to discover new and less common kinds that might be suitable for the Negev´s land. After quite a few consultations the winery staff planted plots of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre, Sauvignon Blan and Chardonnay.
In 2009, the winery purchased advanced winemaking equipment in order for the young and gifted winemaker to make wine of the highest quality. Different types of new barrels were purchased from various places. A new, technically advanced crusher was purchased, along with an automatic bottle line, stainless steel tank, pumps and much more sophisticated equipment from top manufacturers in Italy and Israel. In addition, a new plot was added of approximately 4.94 acres from a vine-grower in the Mizpe Ramon area. The winery continued its self-research and development in order to combine and discover new plots in the Negev.
The Kadesh Barnea winery is currently going through a branding processes and has changed its name to Ramat Negev Winery. The name came from the desire to express the unique growing lands´ grapevines in Ramat Hanegev, while representing the entire Ramat Hanegev area. Each wine is effected by the area in which it was grown. The winery aspires to make wine from Negev vineyards and allow wine lovers a rare taste of the different and special grape-growing area. In addition, Ramat Negev Winery is the very first winery that was established in Ramat Negev and one of the first to plant vineyards. As a result of an innovative perception combined with an ancient tradition, it was decided to grow vineyards in the Negev and express this terroir. The winery´s aspiration is to gather all of the agricultural produce of grapes and be a central location/central winery.
As of 2019, the winery makes about 200,000 bottles in a wide range of prices. The winery´s goal is to make quality wine for affordable prices.
The Winery´s Emphasis on Ecology
Recently, the winery has made ecology its motto. The winery goes to great lengths to pay Mother Nature back – for enabling us to establish this desert miracle. In the winery, we preserve as much as we can the balance between human beings and nature, by taking ecological actions in a wide range of fields – water, land and air.
Water: We use water that has been purified by local drilling. The water used for watering and production is salty water that is pumped from the depths of the earth. After “cleaning” the water from its natural salts it contains, we add exact dosages of fertilizer. In three years we have learned to identify the exact amount needed of each mineral. We control solely the grapevines´ nutrition and since there is no precipitation, we have learned to identify the delicate balance that the grapevine requires in order to grow the best possible fruit.
Air: The air is preserved by us not using pesticides and our prevention of spraying chemicals on our vineyards. This is possible due to the relative isolation of the vineyards. In addition, the dry desert climate prevents the creation of different funguses. This is how we are able to grow vineyards clean of spraying and chemicals.
Land: Preserving the land is made possible to us by placing the shredded branches (that were shredded after the pruning process) back into the ground, this is how we naturally enrich our land. We also place back in the ground the fruit waste that comes from the winemaking process, as an enriching organic material.
The vineyards are grown on qualified lands that are designated for agriculture purposes; therefore, there is no destruction of natural habitats. All of the plantings are done on never-before-used lands; this is how the land doesn´t get worn out. We plant new plants, settle the desert and turn brown into green.