Damian of Feeling Uruguay Wine Tours was born and brought up in Mendoza, the heart of Argentinian wine country and the home of Malbec. As a child a weekly tradition was to accompany his grandfather who was the manager of one of the largest estancias (or ranches) in Mendoza to choose the wine for Sunday lunch.
In Argentina, vineyards are big business with generally large-scale operations. One vineyard there may produce more wine than all the Uruguayan wine-makers combined.
So Uruguay was still a bit of a secret –even in wine circles– when almost a decade ago Damian decided to make a big life change. He left Argentina and moved to Colonia del Sacramento, a small town with UNESCO heritage status in Uruguay, just an hour across the water from Buenos Aires.
However it wasn’t just the charm and history of Colonia that impacted him. It was the wine.
The quality of the wines being produced in Carmelo, just an hour’s drive from his new home blew him away. He was particularly excited by Tannat, Uruguay’s answer to Malbec.
Damian baptised his new wine tour company Feeling Uruguay, because he quickly realised that the uniqueness of Uruguayan wine culture is that the wineries are small family-run concerns.
You get to meet the owners -incredibly warm, kind people– and winemakers in person. They share their passion and love of viticulture with you.
So not only do you get a feel for the wine, but you also get a feeling for Uruguay itself.
The wine roads of Colonia-Carmelo and Montevideo
Damian offers tours of two outstanding Uruguayan wine-producing regions:
Montevideo and Canelones wine road
Most of Uruguay’s wine is produced in vineyards just outside of the capital Montevideo and its neighbouring province Canelones. The closest vineyard is just ten minutes drive from the city centre. However most vineyards are not open to the public. So a wine tour is the only way to see the majority.
Colonia and Carmelo wine road
Colonia is a south-western province most well-known for the historic city of Colonia del Sacramento. The eight wineries are just outside the town of Carmelo and almost all dedicated specifically to boutique-production.
Damian’s tours will take you on a one-day trip along either the Montevideo-Canelones wine road or the Colonia-Carmelo wine road – or what the hell, do both!
[Note from the Guru: Colonia, Carmelo and Montevideo are all points of entry by boat from Buenos Aires. With Colonia just one hour by ferry from Buenos Aires, you can realistically do a Colonia-Carmelo wine tour in a day trip – though we recommend that you make your wine tour a highlight of a longer stay in Uruguay.
The wineries in Montevideo-Canelones are more spread out, and the ferry ride from Buenos Aires takes over two hours, so ideally plan your Montevideo-Canelones wine tour as part of a minimum four day-three night stay in Montevideo.]
Historic city and gastronomy tours
Damian’s a passionate history buff so if you want to mix and match a wine tour with a short city tour of Montevideo or Colonia’s Old Towns, that’s also an option.
He’s also putting together gastronomy tours of Uruguay’s best cheese-makers and olive-oil producers. I haven’t seen anyone else doing this yet. So do ask him if that’s something you’re interested in.
What’s included in a Feeling Uruguay tour
Expert guide and sommeliers
Visits to 1, 2 or 3 family-owned wineries
Tasting of up to 10 or more wines(including from the barrel)
“Picadas” – plates of local cheeses, cured hams, breads
Opportunity to meet winemakers face–to–face
The tour takesup to seven hours depending on the tour chosen
Come away with good background on Uruguayan wine, the signature wine, Tannat, and how wines are made here
Come away with a real feel for Uruguay
Tours in Argentinian wine country (Mendoza and in the future, Salta) available