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. For years, but most noticeably in the last decade and a half, wines from Uruguay are winning gold and silver medals in international competitions. And rivalling more well-known Argentina in the process.
It was typical for Uruguayan families, many 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. A number of wineries allow you to 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. The wines of Uruguay, surprise drinkers with their marked difference to other South American and new world wines.
Guru’Guay’s top wineries, wine stores & tours in Uruguay
Almacén de la Capilla – Carmelo winery cabaña among the vines
Alto de la Ballena – Pioneering Maldonado winery
Balbuena Wines – Wine tasting in Montevideo
Bodega Cerro Chapeu – Uruguayan wine legends
Nakkal Wines – Minimal intervention wines
Pisano Wines Uruguay – Kings of Tannat
Varela Zarranz – Uruguay wine history & sparkling wines
Uruguay’s wine regions
Most wine is produced in:
- Montevideo and Canelones
A full half of all of the wineries in Uruguay are located in just one province—the department of Canelones. These wineries were founded by European immigrants in a radius rideable by horse from the port of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. Almost all are small family-run concerns. How many capitals—or major cities—of the world have a wine region so close to home? Studies have equated Canelones with Bordeaux in France.
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
Incredibly one in every three bottles of wine produced in Uruguay is a Tannat. So what does Uruguay’s flagship wine taste like? Here’s a guide to get you started. The wines were chosen by restauranteurs in Montevideo whose mission is to get their customers hooked on Uruguayan wines This is advice worth following.
Where to try Uruguay wine
- Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches & Wine Country includes over thirty pages on the wine of Uruguay including ten very different wineries to visit in three different wine regions. Best wine lists
- Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo Wineries to visit within and close to the city. More best wine lists
- Why you should only visit one or two wineries per day in Uruguay and I’d say just one
- Wine Explorers Private tours. Twice-monthly group outings to wineries around Uruguay and for wine evenings in Montevideo frequented mainly by foreigners.
Wine tasting in Montevideo
- Canelones King producer of Uruguay wines
- 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