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Uruguay as a Wine Region

The Rising Star in Wine Industry

Most of you might be aware that Uruguay is the fourth-largest wine producer in the South American Continent.

While the country has already become an important wine producer in South America, several of the wine critics are describing it as the rising star in the global wine industry.

And, most of them say that they are much impressed by the country’s distinctive Tannat wines. Yes, I am speaking about the most celebrated wine grape variety of Uruguay.

Wine grape varieties

This iconic grape is found to be the major reason for the country’s rise in the global wine industry. Now, let’s see about the viticulture and viniculture of Uruguay in detail here…

A Quick Look at the History of the Wine Industry in Uruguay

Although the first instances of vine culture in Uruguay are not known, we can see that the history of Uruguay’s modern wine industry is dating back to over 250 years.

It was around the year 1870 that the first Tannat vine plants were brought to Uruguay immigrants of Basque.

It is being said that the Tannat vines were introduced by Don Pascual Harriague, who is also a Basque. However, it was only during the second half of the 19th century the commercial production of wine started here.

It’s to be noted that the country was about two centuries behind Chile and Argentina in the wine industry. But, I would say that the country has emerged steadily in the world of wines with a promise of giving some amazing wines to the wine lovers.

A Short Note on Uruguay’s Viticulture

We could see that the majority of Uruguayan wines are produced from the grapes being cultivated in the southern parts of the country, especially in the following departments:

  • Canelones
  • Montevideo
  • San José
  • Colonia

We can also observe some viticultural activities in the western parts, more particularly along the Argentinean borders. As a whole, we could see that there are viticultural activities in 15 of 19 departments in the country.

List of Uruguayan Departments with Vineyards

  • Artigas
  • Durazno
  • Florida
  • Lavalleja
  • Maldonado
  • Paysandú
  • Rivera
  • Rocha
  • Salto
  • Soriano
  • Tacuarembó

Wines and Vines of Uruguay

As I mentioned earlier, Tannat is the most important grape variety of Uruguay which is forming almost 36% of the total wine grape cultivation in the country.

This is a robust and tannic red grape variety from which the most powerful wines with higher contents of alcohol and with lower levels of acidity were produced.

We can say that the Tannat variety in all forms is more suitable to the climatic conditions of the South American Continent. In fact, the conditions here are much better than the place of origin of this variety – the Madiran vineyards in the southwestern part of France.

What apart from Tannat can be seen in Uruguay? Well, it can be guessed easily. Almost all the newly developing wine regions are seen cultivating the commercially successful Vitis vinifera vines and Uruguay is not exceptional in this.

Thus, the country is cultivating the following Bordeaux grape varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc

These varieties have acquired an important spot in the dry red wine category of Uruguay. Aromatic Viognier is also more popular among the country’s grape varieties in addition to the Muscat Hamburg variety, which is more important in the bulk rose wine production.

Among the white varieties, we can see that the grape varieties like Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc have taken an important spot in the country.

Wine Classification in Uruguay

We can see that there are two levels in the classification of Uruguayan wines, which are:

  • Vino de calidad preferente: This is the quality wine category and these wines must be produced using Vitis vinifera varieties.
  • Vino común: This is the table wine category.
Alcohol and Distilleries

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Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam


I am Tharani, I have Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. I am passionate about the wine industry and continue to explore, learn and share and I bring in a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you keep updated with best wines in the world. Stay tuned..

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