The Yatir region, located in the southern tip of the Judean Hills, has a rich and fascinating history of wine production. Passersby and onlookers can view the extensive and impressive wine press, a testament to a developed wine industry of over 2500 years, dating back to the first reign of the kings of Judah. A large center of Jewish settlement existed in this region between the periods of the destruction of the Second Temple to the inception of the Islamic period. The livelihood of these early farmers was based mostly on growing and processing grapes and olives. The region was known as one of the finest for growing vines for the purpose of winemaking and from this very region wines were later exported to Egypt, Rome and across Israel.
David Ben Gurion had a dream of making the Negev region bloom and blossom and so when he wanted to plant a forest in the Yatir region, he consulted with selected experts to guide him through the process. After numerous discussions and assessments, the agronomists determined that the region, which was overly dry and warm, was unsuitable for planting trees. Ben Gurion had other plans in mind however: “Replace the experts!” he said and rightfully so. The forest, which borders the desert and which was planted in a semi-arid region, became one of Israel’s largest forests (stretching across approximately 40,000 dunams). The forest was named after the Levite biblical city of Yatir, whose ruins remained in great destruction. The site serves as a green lung and a hiking site, as well as an experimental model for innovative methods for combating desertification. The forest became a significant ecological tool and over the past several years has been researched by numerous scientists. In the heart of the largest planted forest in Israel, in valleys and slopes surrounded by a myriad of trees, such as Jerusalem Oaks, carob, pistachios, pine and olive trees, the Yatir Winery vineyards were planted.
The Yatir Winery was built at the foot of the Israelite Tel Arad Fort (an archeological site), located 10 minutes away from the vineyards of the Yatir Forest. This small and exclusive winery was founded in 2000 as a joint venture between local vine-growers and the Carmel Winery, who recognized the extraordinary potential of the Yatir region. These days the winery produces 150,000 bottles. Over the years, this southern winery, located in the heart of the desert, has turned into a symbol of the region. Its wines, which have been repeatedly awarded with high scores, exceptional recognition and medals, have been rated in recent years among Israel’s top wines by local as well as international wine critics.
On the hillsides of the Negev, rising to the Judean Mountains, superb plots of land were selected by determined and professional pioneer vine-growers for growing quality grapes, thus reviving an ancient specialized tradition of thousands of years. The spirit of the encounter between man and earth, in the space between the snow and the sun is materialized by winemakers who are in love with this artwork and who use the best possible equipment to realize this vision. The Yatir Winery set a goal for itself to give emphasis to the singularity of the region in its wines. This Yatir character brings pride to the winemakers and is derived from planted vineyards soaring high and from the dry and cold desert frontier night climate that makes the growing region (terroir) extremely special and unique. The Winery’s vine-growers and winemakers are fully committed and devoted to achieving products of the highest quality, starting with selecting the best land plots, to the cultivation of the grape varieties, and through to the harvesting process, fermentation, the aging of the wine and the bottling process – all performed with the most innovative technologies and equipment.
the well-tended vineyards of the Yatir Winery are planted at an altitude of up to 900 meters above sea level and are scattered across various locations in the forest. The plots in these vineyards have varying soil compositions, with different slants and angles. The unique climate is characterized by cool, breezy mornings, dry, sundrenched days, cold nights (also at the peak of summer…) and snowy winters. The plots further have well-drained limestone soils, rich with chalk and clay so that the vine crops remain naturally low. These are ideal conditions for growing quality red grape varieties. Each of the Yatir Forest vineyards has its own distinct features, indicating its specific location in the forest. The winery maintains the identity of each vineyard during the production process, comprised of over 70 different plots.
Eran embarked on his journey into the world of wine in Australia, the world’s leader in the significant progress taking place in winemaking in recent years. Eran studied at the University of Adelaide, where he majored in viticulture and viniculture. Eran also partook in grape harvests and winemaking in Barossa and McLaren Vale in Southern Australia. After finishing school, Eran worked as a winemaker’s assistant at the Salitage Winery in Western Australia. Upon his return to Israel, Eran joined the Carmel Winery and from there he moved on to the Yatir Winery, where he is in charge of the vineyards and the wine production process. Eran is the epitome of the next generation of winemakers in Israel – young, professional, seasoned and innovative. Eran believes that wine should represent the exclusive quality and nature of its growing region.
Ya’acov left his previous occupation in the field of electronics 30 years ago in order to pursue his current dream, working in vineyards and in agriculture in the Yatir Forest. Since the first day of the establishment of the Yatir Winery, Ya’acov was there to oversee the venture of his life. Managing the winery allows Ya’acov to combine his greatest loves – people, vineyards, agriculture and business entrepreneurship.
A graduate of the Ramat Gan Wine Academy. Eti was formerly employed in the medical field in Israel and overseas, and upon her return to Israel, she settled in a communal settlement on the outskirts of the Yatir Forest. Eti’s captivating personality gives her role at the winery added value and an extra special touch, which includes representing the winery in external events, managing the customer’s club and organizing special events.