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  • Writer's pictureMartha Vignati

Uruguay May Be The Next Great Wine Destination



  1. Garzón, Uruguay — Terraced vines and spindly olive trees form a patchwork quilt over gently rolling hills, which are themselves covered by a maze of powdery dirt roads. Follow one of these bumpy paths far enough and you'll find an olive oil mill, a farm-to-table restaurant and a hilltop winery.

  2. In fact, if you squint a bit, this place could pass for the famed Italian wine region of Tuscany -- that is, if you can overlook the wild capybaras (the world's largest rodents) and ostrich-like rheas running through the vines. These creatures, of course, are telltale signs you're in a totally different hemisphere on a completely different continent: South America.

  3. It's not that South American wines aren't well known. When experts in California, France or Italy discuss fine wines from South America they typically reference two countries: Chile and Argentina.

  4. Chile revived the lost French grape of Carménère and with it, fashioned Bordeaux blends that now rival those from the Old World. Meanwhile, Argentina spearheaded a global craze for Malbec that gave the varietal a permanent home on wine shelves the planet over.

  5. Yet, there's another player that's slowly built up momentum in recent years, thanks, in no small part, to a pioneering new winery that's experimenting with grape varietals and dismantling regional stereotypes.

  6. The country is Uruguay, and the winery is Bodega Garzón.

  7. https://bodegagarzon.com/en/


  1. Garzón lies inland from the fashionable beach town of José Ignacio, about three hours east of the capital Montevideo. The vines here are barely a decade old, but that hasn't stopped Garzón from racking up an impressive list of accolades.

  2. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named it New World Winery of the Year in 2018. The following year, it landed the No. 2 spot on the inaugural top 50 list from the World's Best Vineyards Academy.

  3. Uruguay has a 150-year-long history of winemaking, but it's always struggled to get the kind of attention that its neighbors have received for decades.

  4. Size may play a part. South America's second-smallest nation has historically had a wine industry that's slight in scale, miniscule in exports and iffy on quality.

  5. Bodega Garzón is out to change that -- but it hasn't always been easy.

  6. Christian Wylie, the winery's managing director, says one of the biggest hurdles is its location: Many consumers don't even know where Uruguay is. (Hint: it's between Argentina and Brazil on South America's Atlantic Coast.)

  7. "When we have tastings of Garzón wine around the world, one of the first things we do is show them a map," he says. "We explain that Uruguay is at the same latitude as wine regions in Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa."

  8. In other words, the conditions are there to make great wine.

  9. What makes Bodega Garzón so different from nearly every other winery in its own country is that it's located just 11 miles (18 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean.

  10. Not only that, it's in an area that was, historically, little more than pasture for cows. (Uruguayans eat more beef, per capita, than any other country on Earth. Take that Argentina.)

  11. Owner Alejandro Bulgheroni, a billionaire businessman from Argentina, planned to use this land for a wind farm thanks to its cool Atlantic breezes. His wife, Bettina, was concerned about the aesthetics (they have a house nearby) and convinced him to try grapes instead.

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