The New York Times Features MFI’s Desert Winemaking

Picture a typical winery. Are you thinking of lush green crops in an idyllic Italian countryside? With climate change altering the global wine industry, the typical winery is no longer normal. Instead, we are looking to the wineries in the deserts of Israel as the future of wine production.

Hundreds of technology startups, and a futuristic solar tower have created the right conditions in Negev, Israel for desert viniculture to flourish, and today there are roughly 40 boutique wineries in the region. These wineries produce nearly 5,000 bottles of wine that sell for $27 to $45 a bottle.


Harvesting the grenache grapes. The heavy clusters ripen quickly in the harsh desert sun.

To succeed in the Negev, you have to be bold and experiment.

David Pinto, Negev Wine Maker

Although desert viniculture in the Negev region might sound new, there is actually a “history and a tradition of winemaking” in the area dating back to 1,600 years ago, says Nicole Stroh of Merage Foundation Israel. Israeli researchers have found wine presses and cisterns that have shown evidence of a “thriving Byzantine-era wine production and export industry”. Research and vintners are also working together to recreate Byzantine era white and red wine.

Israeli archaeologist standing near vats used for making wine that were found among the ruins of Avdat.

Negev’s wineries are working to trademark the Negev as a wine-producing region, with the help of the David & Laura Merage Foundation, a philanthropic organization that focuses on desert technology, agriculture and tourism. “To succeed in the Negev, you have to be bold” said David Pinto, a vintner who planted his family plot with vines about three years ago.

Read the full New York Times Article here.

Photo Credit: Amit Elkayam for The New York Times