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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

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Most wine is produced in:

  • 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

More reading

More reading on Uruguay wines

Photo: Guru’Guay Map: Click map to go to original

[First published: Nov 24 2013, last update: see above]

The Guru'Guay Guide to Uruguay


Written by a Brit with all the contacts and knowledge accrued over twenty years living in Uruguay, this guidebook will ensure an unforgettable time in one of South America’s least-explored destinations. Includes 42 pages just on wine!

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