VISIONARIES, THE DESERT AND WINE
The story of the Nana Winery is deeply rooted in its desert location. It is a story of challenges, dedication, love for the desert, and the common vision of Eran Raz and Niv Ben Yehuda. Eran Raz, known by his nickname, “Nana,” was born instilled with a love for the desert. In 2004, Eran decided together with his wife, Shahar, and family, to leave everything behind and realize a dream of moving to Mitzpe Ramon. In 2007, the planting of the vineyard commenced in the upper section of the Zin River at an altitude of 800m above sea level. During that year, approximately 30 dunams of vineyards were planted, including the Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc varieties. The beginning of 2014 was marked by a visit to the vineyard from Niv Ben Yehuda, owner of 3 Corners Winery, which operates in Costa Rica, California, and Israel. His purpose was to find wine grapes of quality that depict the desert terroir. The rest is history. Within a few years, their vision transformed into a unique winery on the wine map of Israel.
A Pioneer Vintner Who Saw the Desert as a Unique Terroir
There are those who flow with the current, there are those who wrestle against it, and there are those who redefine its direction. Nana arrived and settled in the area, imbued with the knowledge and experience he had accumulated from various grape-growing regions in the country. Testing the soil, as well as evidence of the presence of ancient terraces, proved that his vision would one day become reality, and as the challenging journey of vineyard cultivation in the desert made headway, Nana established the concept of the desert viticulturist.
Today, the sight of the flourishing, green vineyard nestling between the desert hills, and the flavor of the wine produced from the grapes cultivated in the exceptional terroir are what empower us and encourage us to believe in the dream – to realize the vision and bring about state-of-the-art winemaking, for an authentic desert wine experience.
We aspire to pave the market with a product that imparts the essence of the vineyard and winery as a whole. The first wines were marketed at the start of 2018 and perpetuate the vision of each person involved in its establishment. The construction of the winery is a result of foresight and planning down to the finest details.
We are currently engaged in the process of building a new, modern structure in Mitzpe Ramon: A winery that will increase both the production efficiency and the holding capacity for state-of-the-art equipment, carefully selected for producing wines of the highest quality for the first wine estate in the desert.
Eran “Nana” Raz – Viticulturist and Owner
Eran, husband of Shahar, and father to their six children. He is a viticulturist, man of the desert, pioneer, and visionary.
The name Nana stems from his childhood and has remained his nickname ever since.
Even before his encounter with the wine industry, Eran worked in agriculture. Once exposed to wine, though, he discovered that “A world that bears a wild history, is a field of knowledge that is simply infinite; wine is the embodiment of emotion, history, and soul.” Read more
Shahar Raz – Director of the Visitors’ Center
Married to Eran, and mother of six children, all of whom live in Mitzpe Ramon.
Shahar is a photography graduate, art therapist, and partner to the vision and establishment of the vineyards and winery. She is your connection to the winery and visitors’ center. She creates and demonstrates the connection between the winemaking and the special character of the desert by means of an authentic encounter, personal relations, and ensuring the high standards of hospitality and service offered to the winery customers.
Niv Ben Yehuda – Owner
Niv is married to Karen Retana Ben Yehuda and is father to Lee, Ben, and Dean. Niv, born in Israel in 1966, is the second generation of his family to be working in the flavor and fragrance industry.
After relocating to the US to complete his studies, Niv discovered his professional niche in the industry and remained there to establish his own company. The appeal of the world of wine, and Niv’s love for it developed from his understanding that wine is so much more than an alcoholic beverage: It is a culture, an art, a complete world of and in itself. To Niv, a wine of quality is a product of talent, manifestation, and knowledge: the creation of the artist and the scientist- the masters of the vineyard and winery. Niv is the owner of the 3 Corners Winery, which produces wines in three countries – Costa Rica, California – USA, and Israel.
Niv’s aim is to produce the highest quality wines in each of the three countries he calls home and to endow each bottle with wonderful tales for wine lovers around the world.
Kerry Damskey – Wine Consultant
Kerry Damskey holds a B.S. in Fermentation Sciences from UC Davis, California. Kerry and his wife, Daisy, together with their son, are vintners and the owners of Palmeri Wine in California – a premium boutique winery.
Lee Ben Yehuda – Marketing and Sales Manager
Lee is the face of the winery: that which you encounter in restaurants, stores, and various wine exhibitions. Having a father as an expert in the taste and fragrance industry, who led his family into the world of wine, the home Lee was raised in lived, spoke, breathed, and embraced wine.
Lee majored in marketing and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel with a B.A. in business administration. She also completed the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) course and qualified with the Level Three Award in Wines. Prior to the establishment of Nana Winery, she worked in a wine school, and over the past six years, has worked in and managed bars and several chef restaurants in Tel Aviv, where she specialized in wine, champagne, and alcohol.