While not as well known as Chile and Argentina for wine production, Uruguay is South America’s 4th largest producer – which considering its size is pretty impressive! And it is certainly something that any traveller there can experience for themselves.
One of the most stunning places to get your Tannat fix is Bodega Garzon – in Maldonado and just an hour from Punta del Este. One of the most advanced vineyards in South America, they have cutting edge technology and an enormous valley to experiment with different grape varieties and microclimates. Take a tour and see every step from vine to barrel, with enthusiastic experts and of course several glasses to taste. And definitely don’t miss the restaurant, with a specialist open-fire method developed with Francis Mallmann, a great focus on local products and an expert wine pairing for each course lunch here is a great Uruguayan experience.
Another great area for wine is Carmelo, western Uruguay’s answer to Tuscany. With a cluster of small scale local wineries and excellent restaurants, a few days here can be a real delight. Campotinto is a small scale winery with Italian heritage, making some great Tannats and have an excellent restaurant.
And just next door is Cordano, a lovely family winery dating back to the 19th century. Explore the vineyards and visit the shop for some fantastic homemade wines, liquours, grappa, dulce de leche, jams and pickles.
Narbona Wine Lodge is a beautiful century-old vineyard and working farm, the Pinot Noir and Provolone cheese are particularly good, as is their homemade dulce de leche. Pop in for a full cheese and wine tasting with their expert sommeliers, have a full meal in their Relais and Chateaux restaurant or stay for a few days in one of the charming rooms and explore the wider area.
The Uruguayan countryside is green and rolling, perfect for horse riding and the gaucho culture is a strong and fundamental part of the country’s past and present.
Estancia El Charabon is a peaceful, homely estancia and working sheep and cattle farm in Rocha province. The owners welcome you into their family home (with pet peacocks!) where the cosy fire and authentic home cooked food help you relax, but of course, the horse riding is their speciality and leisurely riding tours of the countryside are perfect for any level of experience. A real slice of rural Uruguay with old-fashioned charm.
Another, smaller scale family ranch is Haras las Tordilas in the Valley of Eden. Rustic, rugged and remote – with 8 horses and 4 cabins this is a place for small groups of experienced riders to tackle varied and sometimes challenging country. The valley also has a lovely vineyard and olive oil plantation making the whole area a hidden treat.
As a chic, luxury option Estancia Vik has real wow-factor. A 4,000-acre site near Jose Ignacio, the white colonial-style ranch stands out from the endless green surroundings. With a focus on modern art, barbeques, horse riding and polo – Vik offers a unique, sophisticated and wonderfully active getaway for a few days.
To book your perfect Uruguay holiday, call our travel specialists on 0208 546 6222