The Seven best Wineries in Uruguay to enjoy the Wine experience at its fullest
Who would want just a city tour when visiting Uruguay if there is a chance to go to the country side and unveil the mysteries of the good wines of this magnificent country?
From tours to lodging and restaurants, wineries in Uruguay are stepping up into the center of attention.
In a country where annual rainfall is of 1250mm a year, excellence in wine production is a gift of nature even in a drought year such as 2015. The soil in these lands offers the matchless combination of rich nutrients and temperate weather allowing extraordinary wine types to outstand. In the last decades unproductive regions were transformed into striving vineyards that gave way to wine exquisite production. And some other wineries who have been in Uruguay for generations have consolidated and produced specific wine strains such as the Tannat.
The wine circuits in Uruguay are rich in stories and have developed Uruguayans passion for obtaining the perfect combination of vines and as a result gathering the most exclusive and awarded wines. The wineries are mostly family run and many of them open their doors to visitors allowing them to walk along the vineyards and observe the different stages of production and finally taste the best brands.
Brazilians love Uruguayan Wines
Brazilian visitors are the most frequent consumers of the wine tours in Uruguay and the wineries are reacting well and seeking to satisfy the demands of those interested in the wine culture by providing new services.
There are, in fact, more than150 agricultural establishments with small and medium wineries called ’boutique’ with vineyards and many of them are now offering tours and wine tastings among other services.
Most wineries are located in Montevideo and Canelones, although there are also many in Colonia, Maldonado, Salto and Rivera. Some offer tourists the opportunity to stay, especially because of its proximity to Montevideo. This trend of staying at the wineries is a new style gaining increasing followers.
More than 40,000 people participated in 2014 in various activities wine tours in Uruguay, either in guided tours and tastings or in special schedules which promote various strains of wine produced in the country. During 2015 an increase of at least 20% in the number of people visiting the cellars is expected, 30% will come from Brazil.
The seven best wineries in Uruguay
The list below is based on the ones who have gone beyond, making a difference and taking into account the concept of the place, its location and their style.
Juanicó: This is a company driven entirely by the Deicas family, which owns 100% of the company shares and has worked with effort and dedication to define the best wines for the establishment. The three generations share the same passion – to achieve the perfect balance between tradition and innovation of the best wines. As a result Don Pascual is the most sold wine in the country. This winery offers guided tours showing the architecture and history of the farm. The tour includes the area of the vineyard, wine cellar, old stone buildings and underground cellar. The end of the wine tasting sessions are held with empanadas and homemade cheese. Juanico Winery
Antigua Bodega Stagnari: This vineyard outstands in its original 1928 construction. It is placed in a granite subsoil region and with time it has become a reference to visitors. Half of the production is placed abroad mainly in Europe. The visits are scheduled and there is a wonderful trail around the vineyard. Stagnary Winery
Bouza: As from 1942 this incredible winery has worked on the small scale production aiming at outstanding quality. It has a wonderful restaurant offering a 5 course menu and a boutique, where wine lovers can find limited editions including Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Bouza Winery
Narbona Winery: Located in the Carmelo area it offers five rooms to stay at which operate under the patronage of Relais & Chateaux, a French brand of luxury boutique hotels and restaurants. There are plenty of tasting events held monthly and when visiting the vineyard it is a must to go to the restaurant as well and taste their own cheese and bread. The activity grew a lot and are very optimistic for the future. It is expected that the number of visitors grow 30% from 2014 to 2015. Narbona has also a restaurant and a shop in Punta Del Este, which offers wines and craft products.
Altos de la Ballena: In 1998, Paula and Alvaro Lorenzo Pivel, decided to establish a small winery in the department of Maldonado, in the southeastern region of Uruguay. They searched for a place that combined excellent wine, beautiful scenery and a good location. The vineyards are composed of Merlot, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Viognier. During the visit, visitors walk through the vineyards, taste wines afterwards accompanied by cheese and toasted bread with olive oil in a wonderful setting with the unique beauty of the Laguna del Sauce and Punta Ballena very near to Punta del Este. Altos de la Ballena
Bodegas Carrau: Family Carrau was part of a small group of families who have devoted to cultivate a tradition that has transcended 10 generations. Working quietly and having great conviction in making good wines, the result is their admired jewel “Tannat” and is one of the most searched wines. Bodegas Carrau
Bodega Garzon: The newest kid on the block! They are located near Punta del Este, La Barra and José Ignacio, Uruguay’s holiday paradise. Bodega Garzon impresses with their state of the art infrastructure and their Tannats. Their Tannat “Reserva” is almost constantly sold out!
Wine Events 2015
For the first time, Uruguay will host in September a Conference “The Latin American Congress of Wine Tourism”. This activity will promote the country as a destination and as a producer of high quality wines. Uruguay has the potential to be placed at the level of Argentina and Chile and be promoted together within the South American wine route.
The Mantra Hotel & Resort in La Barra will hold the seventh edition of the “International Wine Show”, an exhibition and tasting of quality products, which will take place on September, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th, 2015 from 21:00 to 1:00 in the resort ballroom.
The events combine an elegant and creative cuisine by the hotel chef’s team with a high level of wines from Uruguayan wineries in the region and some products are added from exhibitors of Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United States brought by Vinos del Mundo.
Mary Ann Thompson