Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


April 07th, 2015

Wines of Uruguay

Uruguay is emerging as one of the most exciting wine-producing countries in the world; with plenty of money being invested into developing vineyards and existing producers getting the recognition they deserve.

It’s the fourth largest producer in South America (after Argentina, Chile and Brazil) but the production is tiny. Only 73,000 tonnes harvested per year (compared to 1.6 ml tonnes in Argentina) making Uruguay close to Japan or Switzerland’s production in terms of volume. Uruguay’s total annual production of 10 million cases is less than that of a single large producer in Chile.

Harvest, Wines of Uruguay

The country is roughly the size of the state of Washington (176,000 sq km), with the population equivalent to that of Wales (3 million). Yes, Uruguay is home to just 3.4 million people, who happily consume most of their own wine, leaving just under 10% of the production available for exports.

The secret in terms of quality lies in its climate and soils, both of which contribute to the style of wine produced, and are very different from its neighbours in Chile and Argentina. In general Uruguay produces a more European style of wine with less jammy fruit, less alcohol, more acidity and structured tannins.

The wine producing areas are located on the 34th parallel South, the same as Santiago, Mendoza, Stellenbosch and the Barossa Valley (the equivalent in the north being Lebanon and Los Angeles).

Uruguay is a flat country; the product of gentle ageing and weathering of a variety of soil types, in the main winemaking areas, a mix of alluvial clays, silts, sand with some gravel overlying a limestone bedrock. There are no dramatic igneous or faulted structures that create mountain ranges; in fact the highest point in Uruguay is only 514m above sea level.

This flat landscape and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, with the chilly Antarctic currents, along with sometimes fierce winds that blow inland from the sea, give the southern coastal region a cool maritime climate that could be comparable to Bordeaux or Margaret River, it’s almost sub-tropical further north.

Juanico vineyards, Uruguay

The main wine-growing region, where 90% of the wines are made, is Canelones; situated around the capital Montevideo and next to the Rio de la Plata (the world widest river; an estuary that leads into the Atlantic ocean). The highest area gently rises to 100m; there are no slopes or river valleys for vineyards here. The soils are clay or clay and limestone mix. Clay retains water well during dry periods, forming a hard crust on the surface. These vineyards do not need irrigation and although it can be dry, the vines are rarely water stressed.

The undisputed signature grape of Uruguay is Tannat, a red variety originally from France that produces robust wines with strong tannins, dark fruit flavours and spicy notes. It is also considered to be one of the healthiest red wines as it contains 3 to 4 times more antioxidants than other red grapes, and also has a high concentration of resveratrol.

All the wineries are small and still family-owned and run. The wines are virtually all hand-made every step of the way, and infused with the passion and enthusiasm of these families, resulting in unique wines with characteristics that reflect both the territory of the vineyard and the personality of the individual winemaker.

Uruguayan wines offer excellent value for money; they can blow Chile or Argentina out of the water in the price-quality boat. There’s no question that Uruguayan wines, particularly Tannats, are worth seeking out. 

 

This year (2015) we launched our first Uruguay-only holiday which visits Colonia, vineyards, Montevideo, estancias and Punta del Este.

 

Post a comment

Upcoming Events

See full Event Listing

Other articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

The Leading Specialists

  • Since 1980
  • The original pioneers in travel to Latin America - the first and still the best
  • Award-winning holidays, crafted with care
  • Nobody knows Latin America better

Travel with the Experts

  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Our team shares  a unique insight into Central and South America
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience

Choice and Flexibility

  • The widest range of options
  • No limitations on how you can travel
  • A genuinely personal service geared to understanding your needs
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you
Wanderlust

Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/travel/wines-of-uruguay

Page ID: {DDD8DE3B-16F3-4535-B230-FA30506E6562}

Page Name: wines-of-uruguay

Page Display Name: Wines of Uruguay

Page Template Name: T031-PapagaioBlogPost

Page Template ID: {ECC6A232-9784-4CC7-BA26-18421546B8F5}

Parent ID: {DC65CFB2-D81C-4A04-A7F8-0A1B3D88E7EB}

Parent Name: travel

Parent Display Name: Travel

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}