With more than 200 wineries, Uruguay is the new world’s undiscovered wine jewel.
Some vineyards are over a hundred years old run by fourth and fifth generation winemakers; some of the newer ones are owned by foreigners who have fallen in love with Uruguay, like Leslie Fellows from California, one of the owners of all-women-run estate winery Artesana.
It was typical for families, many of whom are descendants of Italians and Spaniards, to grow grapes and make their own wine at home. I have a relative whose family has a tub to tread the grapes at home that dates from several generations ago. At the Almacen de la Capilla in Carmelo you can have a go at treading grapes yourself in February.
Since 2000, wine-making has been professionalised under the tutelage of renowned flying wine-makers coinciding with a new generation of local enologists getting their wine-making credentials in Uruguay and specialising abroad. These young wine-makers are daredevils, making new styles, trying new blends and all importantly getting great results.
For years, but most noticeably in the last decade, wines from Uruguay are winning gold and silver medals in international competitions. And rivalling more well-known Argentina in the process.
Uruguay’s wine regions
- Montevideo and nearby Canelones
Over half of all Uruguayan wine is produced within a 30-mile (50 km) radius of the capital. Almost all are small family-run concerns that have been around for generations.
Drive time: 10-40 mins from Montevideo
- Carmelo, Colonia in the west of Uruguay
Colonia is a south-western province most well-known for the historic city of Colonia del Sacramento. Carmelo’s wineries are just outside the town of Carmelo and almost all dedicated to boutique-production.
Drive time: 3 hrs from Montevideo; 1 hr from Colonia
- Maldonado to the east
Maldonado with its coastal breezes and cooler temperatures has become the new hot spot for Uruguayan wines. On the way to Maldonado from Montevideo you’ll pass Atlantida, a small wine region sharing the same climatic characteristics.
Drive time: 1.25 hrs from Montevideo; 30 min from Punta del Este
Tannat: Uruguay’s flagship wine
Where to try Uruguay wine
- Why you should only visit one or two wineries per day in Uruguay and I’d say just one
- Los Nadies A high-end garage winery within Montevideo—in the historic Prado neighbourhood— itself
- Wine Explorers Private tours. Twice-monthly group outings to wineries around Uruguay and for wine evenings in Montevideo frequented mainly by expats
- Baco This restaurant open all day every day has 150+ South American wines on the menu and many by the glass
- 2020 vintage is some of the best wine in decades
- Two of the world’s top wineries are in Uruguay
- A ninja winemaker in Uruguay: Manuel Filgueira of Los Nadies
- Best Uruguayan wines of 2017
- 3 Uruguayan white wines you must not miss (2014)
- Uruguay wines vs. Argentina’s, who comes out top? Financial Times’ Jancis Robinson was rating Uruguayan wine highly back in 2014
More reading on Uruguay wines
- The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches & Wine Country is available on Amazon. The guidebook includes over thirty pages on the wine of Uruguay including features on ten very different wineries in three different wine regions as well as a list of 10 best wines for around ten dollars.
- The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo includes more best wine lists and wineries.
Photo: Guru’Guay Map: Click map to go to original
[First published: Nov 24 2013, last update: see above]
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