ArtesanaThe Uruguay vineyard for foodies
Besides great wine, in our experience, this award-winning women-run winery 45 minutes from Montevideo, has the BEST lunch of Uruguay vineyards.
Artesana is a young boutique winery run by women wine-makers. The twenty-hectare vineyard is delightful, set on a slope close to the Santa Lucia river and a protected wetlands reserve. The drive from Montevideo is easy. First on the highway and then through countryside lined with pampas grasses and the occasional roadside shrine. The nearest village is enigmatically called Las Brujas, The Witches.
Artesana is the Spanish word for craftswoman and the winery is leading the vanguard of a new generation of winemakers in Uruguay, of which a majority are women. The vineyard produces just 50,000 bottles per year including Tannat, Uruguay’s signature red, Merlot and Zinfandel.
Definitely check out the Zinfandel, a red mainly produced in California. Artesana are currently the only growers of Zinfandel in the country, and wine-maker, Analia say Uruguayan Zin is more elegant and fresh than the Californian, due to Uruguay’s more temperate climate.
FAQ: Why choose Artesana instead of another Uruguay vineyard?
What is most outstanding compared to other vineyards is the food. The chef worked previously at Uruguay’s most famous casino hotel in Punta del Este and it shows. The cuisine is adventurous (especially for Uruguay) specialising in the freshest local ingredients and a creative use of wine byproducts. Unlike other wineries with a restaurant around Montevideo, Artesana never takes large group bookings. They limit guests to a maximum of ten diners so you can guarantee you will be lunching in perfect serenity.
Guru Tip If you want to be the only visitors in the entire winery, book to visit mid-week.
FAQ: How long should I plan to stay?
Between the tasting, the tour of the vineyard and a leisurely lunch that you will want to linger over, plan to spend half a day at the winery. This type of experience would be a VIP visit (and charged accordingly!) if it were offered in the US.
FAQ: What if I have dietary restrictions?
Please mention this at the time of booking for delicious vegetarian options.
The wine-tasting only option includes:
- a tour of the vineyard
- generous pours of Tannat, Zinfandel and Tannat Rosado plus two reserve wines
- gourmet appetizers (“
The Artesana lunch option includes:
- the wine-tasting plus
- a six-course tasting menu
- more wine!
Avoiding those cruise ship crowds and buying Artesana wines abroad
Artesana only receives individual visitors and small groups. They have a deliberate policy of not receiving large groups, so you can be sure your visit will be very personal.
Artesana wines are sold at the winery and in select shops and restaurants in the USA (California, Arizona, Louisiana, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts), Uruguay, Brazil, Canada and the UK.
The winery shop has advantageous prices. Prices below in pesos ($), not dollars!
Tuesday to Saturday 12.30 till
Booking your visit to Artesana
Send an email to Artesana [email protected]
How to get to Artesana
Artesana is a 40 minute drive from downtown Montevideo. Ignore the GPS and do not drive through the city. Instead get to the rambla as quickly as possible and then follow it west until you hit the Ruta 5 highway.
Photos: Indrasish Banerjee for Guru’Guay
Artesana – a bewitching winery experience
The drive is easy, mainly on the highway and then through the countryside lined with pampas grasses and the occasional roadside shrine. The nearest village is enigmatically called Las Brujas, The Witches.
We arrived for an early morning visit for a tasting (for mum, I was the designated driver as Uruguay has zero alcohol tolerance for drivers. Booooo.) followed by lunch.
Our English-speaking guide was a trainee wine-maker herself. We started in the vineyard.
Harvest is from the end of February into March, and the grapes hung heavy and purple. The bunches had been carefully pruned and confined to the lower part of the vine. Each vine is limited to not more than six pounds of fruit, to concentrate their quality.
The vines are planted and the leaves pruned back so that the grapes receive full on morning sun and are more sheltered by the vine leaves in the afternoon.
Boutique wine production with a unique varietal
After she showed us around the winery complex. It’s really very small and definitely artisanal, as their name suggests.
Artesana produces Tannat, Uruguay’s signature red, Merlot and Zinfandel.
They are currently Uruguay’s only producer of Zinfandel, a red mainly produced in California. According to Artesana, the Zinfandel produced in Uruguay is more elegant and fresh than the Californian, due to Uruguay’s more temperate climate.
The wine tasting included three generous pours of Tannat, Zinfandel and Tannat Rosado and two reserves. The guys at the Montevideo Wine Experience had already told us to look out for the Tannat Rosado, a gorgeous fuchsia shaded rosé. It was exceptionally refreshing, ideal as an apertif.
Most Uruguayan vineyard wine-tastings are accompanied by a “picada” of ham, cheese and bread.
The picada at Artesana was much more adventurous.
It included huesito caracú – grilled bone marrow (pictured far right). Just like Marmite (for you British readers), the chef told us you either love it or hate it. I had never seen this uber-gaucho dish served at a restaurant before. The bone is cut length-wise and the marrow seasoned and grilled till it was crunchy on top and bubbling and velvety below. Personally I loved it. The picada also included extra-chunky pork pate with lashings of tannat rosado, a pungent goats cheese, zesty marinaded vegetables (escabeche) and a confit made from zinfandel grapes.
We stayed for lunch which is highly recommended. The chef worked previously at Uruguay’s most famous casino hotel in Punta del Este.
At Artesana, he is working with local ingredients using the classic Uruguayan parrilla or grill to create extremely fresh, unusual dishes.
Our ultra-lean cut of beef (entraña) was accompanied by three different types of puré – pumpkin with fire-toasted corn, sweet potato mash with chorizo bites and mashed potato with leek – all toasted on a griddle resting on the parrilla embers.