Western Vineyards of Uruguay
The birthplace of wine in Uruguay: a tale of Jesuit Missions, Spanish and Italian immigrants and grapevines brought from France… the TANNAT experience!
TANNAT is to Uruguay the same as the MALBEC is to Argentina
The tannat is a variety of grape that has grown to be more important in Uruguay than in France, where it originally comes from. Uruguay’s wine heritage goes back to the Jesuits and first Spanish and Italian immigrants who brought the grapevine some 250 years ago and settled in Uruguay.
In the XVIII century the Jesuits settled in the north of the Province of Colonia in Uruguay to continue their religious mission in the country. They chose an estancia or hacienda named Belen, where indians and slaves planted fruit trees, bred cattle and worked in a lime quarry located in the property. In 1741, they built a small and charming chapel, nowadays a national monument known as La Calera de las Huerfanas (The Lime Quarry of the Orphans, named after an orphanage in Buenos Aires that was supported with the production of lime). After the Jesuits were expelled by the Spanish crown, Don Juan de San Martín took the administration of the estancia and found 1500 stocks of grapevine that had been planted by the missionaries: this was the birth of wine in Uruguay.
Later, in 1874, a French Basque immigrant named Harriague imported grapevine cuttings of the obscure French variety called Tannat (Tah-naht) until that time only grown in Madiran, a small wine region in Southwestern France. The dark, dense red wines of extremely tannic nature that were produced could be so harsh and unyielding that it often required years of aging to become drinkable. In fact, it is said, that the name “tannat” stems directly from the word “tannin.”
We will discover the western vineyards of Uruguay and learn how this small country developed its passion for fine wines.
During our tour we will visit 2 vineyards with different profiles and styles:
Cordano winery is run by the second generation of the Cordano family. Situated in a restored almacén (department store) guests will enjoy a tasting of homemade wines. El Legado winery is also a small, family owned winery in the Carmelo area with a very exclusive and limited but excellent wine production. It was born as a legacy from owner Bernardo Mazurca Sr., who had dreamt his whole life with having his own winery. His son Bernardo Mazurca Jr. and his family are making this dream come true. The winery Narbona is located in what was originally the Estancia Narbona, founded in 1740 in the outskirts of Carmelo. Narbona has recently signed an agreement with EnoRolland; the expert advice of the consultant oenologist Michel Rolland was a decisive turning point in the quality of their wines. The varieties grown in the vineyards of Finca Narbona are Pinot Noir and Tannat, and there are new vineyards of syrah and petit verdot.
Day 1: Colonia Del Sacramento
Upon arrival to Colonia, transfer to Charco Hotel located right next to the city´s lighthouse, facing the Rio de la Plata. Afternoon tour of Colonia del Sacramento. Accommodation at Charco Hotel.
Day 2: Colonia – Calera de las Huérfanas – Narbona & Cordano or El Legado Wineries
After breakfast, transfer towards the area of Carmelo. The tour starts with the visit of La Calera de las Huerfanas, the Jesuit Ruins where the Uruguayan history of wine begins. We will then continue to the El Legado winery where; depending on the season, guests may be able to see the harvest, bottling or manual grape selection. After a wine tasting, we will continue our tour towards Bodegas Cordano winery where we will learn about the production processes and history of the vineyard. We will then continue towards Finca Narbona Wine Lodge where guests will enjoy dinner and spend the night. B, L, D.
Day 3: Finca Narbona
Morning at leisure. Picnic lunch in the vineyards and late afternoon wine and cheese pairing tasting in the cellar guided by the winemaker of Finca Narbona (includes three different Narbona wines and seven choices of cheese). Accommodation at Finca Narbona Wine Lodge. B, L
Day 4: Return
After breakfast, private transfer (no guide) to Colonia port or bus terminal. B
Charco Hotel – Colonia del Sacramento (Day 1)
Finca Narbona Wine Lodge – Carmelo (Day 2 – 3)
Biking, Gastronomy & Wines: Chef on Wheels Tour
A trip through the tastes of Uruguay… special experiences of the Uruguayan gastronomy including olive oil & wine tastings, regional products and traditional dishes of the country.
You will be riding from one place to the other meeting different Uruguayan chefs who will introduce you to the local secrets of the fresh local ingredients used in both the contemporary and traditional local recipes of Uruguay. Sharpen all your senses and come ride with us!
Day 1: Arrival Day
Arrival to the port of colonia (suggested) or to the Montevideo Airport. Private transfer to Carmelo. Welcome dinner where you will meet your guide! Accommodation at Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel.
Day 2: Carmelo, wineries, a typical Uruguayan asado & a “Secret Menu” for the evening
You will bike to the town of Carmelo and then continue onto the “Cordano” winery for a visit to the vineyards and wine tasting. You will then continue to El Legado winery where the family will cook a typical Uruguayan asado fr or you! After a lovely day at the winery, you will return to the Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel and prepare yourselves for a very special experience in the evening: you will enjoy dinner at Posada Campotinto where “Elsa Manelphe” the French creator of “La Cuisine Secret” will prepare one of her “Secret menus” for you. “La Cuisine Secret” is a “nomadic organization based in Uruguay that proposes specific and theme dinners organized within closed doors; it is a private club that functions by invitation only and exclusively with prearranged bookings”. She will present “La Nuit du Vin” for you with a secret menu of 5 courses paired with the “km 0 Rio de la Plata” wines from the local Irurtia winery.
Day 3: Colonia del Sacramento
After breakfast, morning transfer to the Anchorena National Park. After a visit to the park, you will bike to colonia del Sacramento to enjoy lunch at La Florida Restaurant, a small intimate restaurant with only 5 tables, where the chef and owner will cook exclusively for you. After a small walking tour of the old town, you will bike to La Casa de los Limoneros, a lovely posada where your host and chef, Sergio Vidra, will organize a cooking workshop based on local products and secret recipes. Sergio is a passionate lover of gourmet cuisine and has starred in several programs for “El Gourmet” channel. He will now prepare a special lamb recipe with sweet potatoes and grilled vegetables paired with a variety of local wines. After dinner, you will be able to visit the “Solarium Bar” of the posada and taste three of the exclusive cocktails which have made the place very well known in the area: “Suspiro de limón” (Lemonade from their own lemon production combined with ginger, mint, rosemary, vermouth, gin and raw sugar) and “Delicious Melon” (Whisky with smoked bacon and melon juice) among others.
Day 4: Montevideo/ Punta del Este
Morning transfer to Montevideo where we will enjoy lunch at the Port Market and then continue onto Casapueblo, where you will visit the museum of the renowned Carlos Paez Vilaro, the famous local artist who designed and built the place. You will bike along the Mansa beach towards the small town of La Barra and to the Fasano Hotel. Free night. Accommodation at the Fasano Hotel.
Day 5: Manantiales & Jose Ignacio
After breakfast, you will bike to Bikini Beach located in the area of Manantiales and then continue onto the Atchugarry Foundation where you will be able to see the permanent art exhibition of regional artists including the wonderful work of Pablo Atchugarry, a Uruguayan sculptor who has specialized in working with marble. You will then continue onto the private house of the renowned chef Laurent Laine, locally known as “el franchute” where he will specially cook for you in his own cozy kitchen! After a marvelous lunch experience, you will continue to the town of Jose Ignacio where you will stay at the stunning Playa VIK. Free night.
Day 6: The Anastasio & Garzon Lagoons
After breakfast, you will bike to the Garzon lagoon, where the canoes will be waiting for us to cross towards the Anastasio lagoon and to the “Lagoon Shack”, a lovely area where you will enjoy the experience of joining our local chef “Isidro Arocena” in the art of cooking for one of the local rural schools of the area that will be invited for lunch with us! This is a very simple and small school where the children of the working people of the area attend classes. They will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch and some of the activities offered in the “lagoon shack”. After a lovely day sharing with the children, you will bike back to town.
Dinner and accommodation at Playa VIK where Marcelo Bentancour, the property’s chef will cook some fresh fish of the day with you in the intimacy of the hotel’s grill in order to celebrate the end of an unforgettable trip!
Day 7: Return
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flights.
Carmelo Resort & Spa, the Unbound Collection by Hyatt – Carmelo (Day 1 – 2)
Casa de los Limoneros – Colonia del Sacramento – (Day 3)
Fasano Hotel – Punta del Este – (Day 4)
Playa VIK – Jose Ignacio (Day 5 – 6)
Small Luxuries of the West…
This authentic and local tour of Carmelo, is all about what luxury means to us, Uruguayans: the enjoyment of small things in life which end up being “the best of life”: the experience of beauty, knowledge, and humanity at their deepest and most inspiring: it could be a sunset, a song, a moment of peace and satisfaction, a perfect cup of tea, a glass of Tannat wine or simply a conversation with one of our local hosts reminding you to love the life we’re living, and to not simply live it!
In the XVIII century the Jesuits established in the north of the Province of Colonia in Uruguay to continue their mission in the country. They settled within an estancia (name used for an hacienda in Uruguay) called “Belen”, where Indians and slaves planted fruit trees, bred cattle and worked in a lime kiln located within the property. In 1741, they built a small and charming chapel, nowadays a national monument known as “La Calera de las Huerfanas” (“The Limekiln of the Orphans”, named after an orphanage in Buenos Aires that was supported with the production of the limeklin). After the Jesuits were expelled by the Spanish crown, Don Juan de San Martín took the administration of the estancia and found 1500 stocks of grapevine that had been planted by the missionaries: this was the birth of wine in Uruguay. Only 2 km from where the former Jesuit vineyards used to be, we can still find vineyards owned by the Zubizarreta family and other local wineries.
These were the first settlers of these lands nowadays known as the region of “Carmelo”, a small wine region with beautiful landscapes, romantic coasts and unforgettable wines. It is a region to enjoy local food, wine and the simple pleasures of life – this is what we propose..
Day 1: Colonia Del Sacramento & Carmelo
On arrival to Colonia Del Sacramento, we will enjoy a walking tour of the old town finishing at “La Florida” local restaurant where “Carlos”, chef and owner will receive us and tell us about his passion for food. This small restaurant hides incredible anecdotes of a chef who has decided to live “local” in a quiet town and managing his small restaurant, after a life of sharing kitchens with some of the most famous chefs worldwide. Learn about his life philosophy and taste his incredible food! Afternoon transfer to Carmelo. We have prepared a special “private dinner for two” at the Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel. Dinner and Accommodation.
Day 2: Carmelo – History & Wines Calera de las Huérfanas – Wineries El Legado & Cordano
After breakfast, we will start our tour of the area with a visit to “La Calera de las Huerfanas” Jesuit Ruins where the Uruguayan history of wines began more than 250 years ago. In 1742 the Jesuits started with the growing of vines int his area were we can still find the national monument known as “La Calera de las Huerfanas” (“The Limekiln of the Orphans”, named after an orphanage in Buenos Aires that was supported with the production of the limeklin). We will visit the area, learn its history and enjoy the typical Uruguayan “mate”. We will then continue onto the Cordano winery where we will learn about the production processes of wine before continuing to Finca Narbona Winery for a visit with tasting and lunch. Dinner and Accommodation at the Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel. B, L.
Day 3: “The River of the painted Birds” and kilometer “0” of the River Plate
Morning bike ride to the region of “Punta Gorda”, where the Uruguay River (In the local Guarani language “Uruguay” means “River of the painted birds”. The river was named by the first native settlers after the beautiful bids that lived in the coasts of the river) ends and turns intoi the River Plate, the widest river in the world. This point is considered to be the “kilometer 0” of both rivers. It was Juan Díaz de Solís who arrived to this coast in 1516, during the famous expedition that first brought the Spanish to the River Plate or “Río de la Plata” (we can nowadays find a monument locally known as the “Solís Pyramid” that reminds us of those first European sailors who discovered these coasts). In 1833, the British scientist, Charles Darwin arrived to this area of Punta Gorda on board of the Beagle when they were on their expedition throughout America. It was Darwin who chose Punta Gorda as an investigation field due to the diversity of fossils that could be found in the canyons of the coast. You can still found the “Escalera de Darwin” (Darwin’s staircase), a spiral staircase built by the scientist where you can still observe the different layers of earth that he studied; this places is still known as Darwin’s corner. After a picnic lunch and some refreshments, we will ride back to the hotel. Late afternoon transfer to Puerto Camacho for a private cruise along the Rio de la Plata for a sunset cocktail! We’ll dock at a secluded marina where we will enjoy dinner at Basta Pedro, a lovely local restaurant. Accommodation at the Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel. B, L.
Day 4: Return
After breakfast, private transfer (no guide) to Colonia port. B.
Carmelo Resort & Spa A Hyatt Hotel – Carmelo (Day 1 – 4)
The trails of cheese & wine in Uruguay
Both cheese and wine were introduced in Uruguay by families of immigrants that arrived to these lands more than 250 years ago. Today, many vineyards, wineries and local cheese artisan producers open their doors to curious guests and tourists from all over the world delighted to taste these hidden Uruguayan gastronomy treasures!
Uruguayan wine, the mysterious “Tannat”: The country’s wine heritage goes back to the first Spanish and Italian immigrants who brought the grapevine some 250 years ago. In 1874, a French Basque immigrant named Harriague imported grapevine cuttings of the obscure French variety called Tannat (“Tah-naht.”) This red grape, usually grown only in Madiran, a small wine region in Southwestern France, produces dark, dense red wines of extremely tannic nature (the name “Tannat” is said to stem directly from “tannin”), so harsh and unyielding that they often require years of aging to become drinkable.
Tannat proved an excellent match for the soil and climate in Uruguay, and it has become the country’s leading variety, as closely associated with the place as “Malbec” has become the trademark variety for Argentina.
Uruguayan Artisan Cheese: On the other hand, the knowledge on “Artisan Cheese” was introduced in Uruguay by immigrants of Swiss origin. After settling in the Province of Colonia, they founded what is nowadays “Colonia Suiza” and as soon as the activity of the first producers showed to be profitable, they were imitated by the nearby towns extending the artisan cheese production area to the Province of San Jose.
DAY 1: COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO/ NUEVA HELVECIA & CHEESE FARMS
During the morning, a private transfer will be waiting to drive guests from Colonia to “La Posada de Ofelia” in Nueva Helvecia. The peaceful atmosphere of the town blends with the friendly inhabitants and their hospitality. The traditional cheese production is one of the most distinctive features of the place and it has become the cover letter not just of Nueva Helvecia, but of the complete Province of Colonia and so the delicious “Colonia Cheese” has been named after the area. Sweets and preserved marmalades and dairy production have led to many important industries in the area. Guests will enjoy a tour of the area visiting three of the local cheese farms to learn about the history and local production of artisan cheese with tasting included (We usually visit the Old Karlem Cheese farm, La Brida cheese farm dedicated to blue cheese and Maria Noel Boutique cheese farm). Accommodation at “La Posada de Ofelia”.
DAY 2: NUEVA HELVECIA – MONTEVIDEO
After breakfast, private transfer to Montevideo. On arrival, guests will be met by a local driver and transferred to My Suites Boutique Hotel. After checking in, they will be driven to the lively Port to enjoy a typical “asado lunch”. Afternoon walking tour of Montevideo’s Old city with visit to the local museums. Accommodation at My Suites Hotel. B, L.
DAY 3: MONTEVIDEO
Morning at leisure. During the afternoon, guests will enjoy a tour of two vineyards of Montevideo including tastings of Tannat fine wines at Bouza and Juanico Wineries (or similar). Accommodation at My Suites Hotel. B.
DAY 4: MONTEVIDEO
Transfer to Montevideo Port or Airport.
Posada Ofelia – Colonia (Day 1)
Hotel My Suites – Montevideo (Day 2 – 4)