An introduction to Uruguay wine country

Uruguay is the new world's undiscovered wine gem. Plan your trip to Uruguay wine country. Tips to regions, wine tasting in Montevideo & private wine tours.

An introduction to Uruguay wine country

Uruguay is the new world's undiscovered wine gem. Plan your trip to Uruguay wine country. Tips to regions, wine tasting in Montevideo & private wine tours.

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

Wine Explorers – Private Uruguay wine tours

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

Wine tasting in Montevideo

  • Baco A bistro in Montevideo (Punta Carretas) with probably the longest wine list in the city and 20 by the glass
  • Balbuena Wines Great little wine store (Cordón) does guided tastings Thursday-Saturdays and you can buy and open any bottle you want daily except Sundays. 
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11 Responses

  1. Hi Karen, do you know of any nice winery that hosts people for the night as well? We are a Belgian family of 4 (all above 21y) setting foot to south-america for the very first time aroun New Year!

    1. Hi Rahul, this is good timing as I am meeting with the president of the Uruguay wine board next week. I’ll ask him! — Karen

        1. Hi Adam I am very fortunate that I live just five blocks from the new artesanal beer maker and resto-pub Montevideo Beer House! and have visited it at least three times in the last month (which now I look at their Facebook page is basically since they opened)! I am a dark beer fan. They have a beer which is remarkably similar to Guiness – I think it’s the dry stout. They have made me very happy indeed 🙂 They also sell Davok beers, which until MBH appeared on the scene, was the maker that I was happiest with (love their Indian Pale Ale).

          Mastra I am not a big fan of. They seem to be attending to the South American palate which prefers its beers sweeter than I do. Fair enough. That is where we are based.

          Montevideo Brew House is in the Pocitos neighbourhood in a spot that is a little difficult to get to on foot, but worth it, for the beer and the charming maze-like streets. The address is Libertad 2592 esq. Viejo Pancho, Pocitos. If you walk from Blvr Artigas, take Viejo Pancho and just keep walking!

    1. Hello Adam,
      Uruguay produces most of the well-know European varieties since the climate is very similar to the Spanish, French and Italian growing regions (particularly because of its proximity to the sea).
      However, its signature grape is Tannat, a red variety on which Uruguayan winemakers have gained master expertise. Other grapes you can find excellent wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Albariño, and Merlot. There are more than 40 exporting wineries, I do not know particularly which you could find where you live, but the average quality is quite good in the range of 15 dollars. If you are in Uruguay, I recommend you keep above 150 uruguayan pesos. If you have any question in particular on a specific wine, winery or variety, please contact us directly through our website contact button. Cheers! Viviana – Bodegas del Uruguay.

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