UruguayUruguay produces dynamic and award-winning wines of outstanding quality. Differing from Argentina and Chile, Uruguay is a country of small-scale, family-owned wineries with a European winemaking tradition. The coastal Atlantic climate is often compared to Bordeaux’s, producing wines with well-balanced levels of alcohol and acidity. Winemaking began in the 18th century when the Spanish brought vines to the region. With approximately 3,500 growers and 270 wineries, Uruguay produces 10 million cases of wine annually from its 22,000 acres of vines. Exports account for only 5% of production, however this figure is increasing as wineries focus on international markets. The Wines of Uruguay (WoU), an association of 23 member wineries, is committed to promoting the quality and image of Uruguayan wine throughout the world.
The U.S. and Canada are Uruguay’s largest export markets after Brazil. With more Tannat grown in Uruguay than the rest of the world combined, Tannat is Uruguay’s signature variety. Originating from the Madiran region of southwestern France, Tannat was brought to Uruguay in the 1870s. Wineries have also found success with Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Viognier.
According to Yale and Columbia Universities’ 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index, only Finland and Norway rank higher than Uruguay for the purest vineyard environment in the world. Uruguay’s water is the purest on the continent and by government decree all beef must be raised organically.