Wine tasting in Uruguay is not something that always comes immediately to mind when planning an adventure tour to South America. Yet, while Argentina and Chile are well-known for producing some of the best wines in the region, untapped Uruguay has slipped somewhat under the radar, though the country’s vineyards produce labels easily able to compete with their more famous international neighbours. So, with tours to Uruguay now available on the all-new Discover Your South America platform, we thought it only right to take a snapshot look at some of best wine growing regions, tours and vineyards the country has to offer, helping you plan that perfect South American adventure along the way.
Top regions for wine tasting in Uruguay
The lovely Canelones region is probably Uruguay’s best-known and most important wine growing district, with an estimated 60% of all worthy grapes coming from this largely flat, verdant area near Montevideo, though almost none of it is exported. Many varieties are grown here thanks to a soil that (although heavy) is versatile, so expect productions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Albariño, Pinot Noir and Viognier, among others. That said, the king of Canelones is, undoubtedly, the Tannat grape, perfectly suited to these conditions and going on to produce some of Uruguay’s best red wines.
Maldonado is becoming one of the fastest, most up and coming wine regions in Uruguay, as swathes of this relatively unpopulated coastal region are being considered prime grape growing real estate, thanks to a fresh climate and rocky soil with good drainage. The result is an all-round environment that allows fragrant Riesling and Merlot grapes to flourish, creating some of the more dramatic of Uruguay’s best wines.
Colonia is best-known for its timeless capital of cobblestone streets and pretty plazas, Colonia del Sacramento, however there are boutique wineries popping up here and producing quality grapes along the way too. So for a wine tour of Uruguay, Colonia simply must feature on your trip as – in-between sightseeing and visiting this coastal region’s historic sites – there’s also a hoard of vineyards producing robust red and white varieties to enjoy here, making for truly enchanting tasting tours.
Rivera, Montevideo and more
For anyone looking to explore more of Uruguay, not just the popular southern coast, head northeast to the Rivera Region, where the warmer weather is much-loved by certain grape varieties, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, Rivera is very close to one of Brazil’s better wine growing districts, Campanha, also known for its fruity reds. Then you have Durazno, Paysandu, El Salto, Artigas and of course, Montevideo, with the latter offering a convenient daytrip for anyone simply on a short break to the capital and its beaches, yet keen to see the production process of everyone’s favourite tipple, first-hand.
Wine labels and bodegas in Uruguay
Uruguay’s vineyards are often boutique, family-run enterprises, meaning that a lot of love is poured into the cultivation of each glass. Bodega Garzón near Punta del Este is particularly impressive, not just because of its fantastic wines but you will also find olive groves and a Michelin-star restaurant here too, with stunning countryside views to boot. Viña Eden is also a special find with its state-of-the-art architecture and spectacular vistas; they also produce one of Uruguay’s greatest Chardonnays. Head to the for a small scale, family-run affair that is El Legado, found on the outskirts of Carmelo and specialising in just two grapes: Tannat and Syrah, opting for quality over quantity.
19th century heritage and classic cars
From Montevideo, you can set out on a wine tour by classic car to start off in style, heading for the Bouza Winery outside of the city where you can not only enjoy a spot of wine tasting, but also peruse the Bouza vintage car collection too! There’s also the Viña Varela Zarranz, 30km from Montevideo, which dates back to the 19th century and has the stunning architecture – and oenological prowess – to prove it. Irurtia Winery in Carmelo also flaunts centuries-worth of experience in wine-making; the descendants of Don Lorenzo Irurtia, who arrived in Uruguay from the Basque Country in the 1800s, continue his legacy to this day with their exceptional wine-making skills.
Stay at boutique wine lodges in Uruguay
If you want to go one step further than daytime wine tasting in Uruguay, why not stay at a wine lodge itself? The country has plenty of them, including Narbona Wine Lodge in Carmelo – an exclusive, stunning boutique hotel that grows its own delectable wine. Tour the atmospheric cellar before enjoying a tasting session, having spent the day by the outdoor pool, on the private beach or out on a helicopter tour of Carmelo. Narbona’s love for wine runs so deep, even the suites are named after a wine grape or variety! Carmelo also plays host to the Posada Campotinto, a beautiful hideaway surrounded by vineyards and lavender beds, with the chance to explore the estate by bicycle or on laidback strolls. Have the staff whip up a picnic for you between the vines, enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool, and finish the day with a delectable meal paired, of course, with one of the estate’s exquisite wines. Salud!
Create your own wine tasting in Uruguay tour using our online trip-builder, tailoring the excursions, lodges and timings to your needs and tastes. Need a hand or want to speak to one of our travel experts? Call us on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK), and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!