A land of wines
From East to West and from South to North, vineyards can be found all over the country with optimal conditions for growing vines. There are six different regions well defined by its characteristics:
This region includes the departments of Colonia, Río Negro and Soriano. They are made up of soils of different materials, such as silt-clay, silt-calcareous and sandy sediments.
Colonia, a department of marked patrimonial wealth, has stony lands of excellent quality, and houses the oldest winery in the country.
Colonia: is the setting of the first city in the country selected as a World Heritage Site. Colonia also has a great culinary offering: it is famous for its wines and cheeses, holds the oldest commercial winery of Uruguay; visiting it feels like travelling to older times.
The soils of the department, especially around Carmelo, as well as the stony ones near the San Juan River, have excellent quality for wine production. As they are combined with the mild climate influenced by the warm waters of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers as they converge into the Río de la Plata, the conditions become especially suitable for late varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
This region comprises the largest number of vineyards and wine production in the country, concentrating more than 70% of the national wineries. The department of Canelones - heart of Uruguayan viticulture -, Montevideo - where the oldest vineyards in the country are located - and San José - fourth department in terms of production -.
It has a marked influence from the Río de la Plata, one of the largest hydrographic basins in the world. The soils of Montevideo and Canelones are generated from sediments and have high fertility, allowing an outstanding development of vine strains.
It is ideal for white varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, but also especially for Tannat.
Canelones: Is the largest wine region in the country, holding 60% of production. The department presents a flat, gently rolling landscape that includes lands used for intensive farming (horticulture, fruit growing and winegrowing) and livestock. It offers a wide variety of soils, usually rich and dense, among which stand out some that hold 600-million-year-old pink granite, which can only be found in this area. It has tolerable temperatures, both in summer – when they go down at night— and in winter —which is not too cold—, and an abundance of good quality water due to the presence of several rivers.
Montevideo: The capital is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the country. It was the place chosen by the first vintners who aimed to stay close to the main market, but the expansion of the city eventually pushed them towards Canelones. As in the rest of the southern area, the annual rainfall makes artificial irrigation unnecessary.
San José: San José is the fourth region of the country in terms of production, with approximately 300 hectares of vines. Its climatic and soil characteristics are very similar to those of Canelones. This region is recognized for its paradigmatic Tannat.
It has warmer weather and more hours of sun than other regions, it includes the departments of Durazno, Florida and Lavalleja.
It has hills and slopes. The soils are acidic and of medium to low fertility, with a loamy to sandy loam texture.
The department of Durazno has earlier ripening, which avoids the late autumn rains.
It is the area of Atlantic influence par excellence, presenting higher altitude and geological diversity than the rest of the regions. This region stretches through the departments of Maldonado and Rocha.
The oceanic climate has lower temperatures than the continental ones and the thermal amplitudes of the region slow down the maturation of the grape.
Maldonado - internationally known for the seaside resort of Punta del Este - is an emerging region in the country's wine production.
This region has interesting soils such as those composed of crystalline rocks with some quartz inlays, or alluvial and gravel soils in the valley, and very particularly those close to the Garzón Lagoon, which emerged from crystalline basement over 2,500 million years ago and are the oldest in the planet. As a result of the wear of these rocks, the ballast of the region surfaces: it is very soft and has excellent drainage and permeability, and the multiple minerals are absorbed by the vines to produce the most important wines of the area.
Maldonado: It is the area of Atlantic influence par excellence, presenting higher altitudes and greater geological diversity than the rest of the regions. The department of Maldonado, internationally known for the seaside resort of Punta del Este, has an innovative profile that positions it as the emerging region in the country's wine production.
The vineyards of the region are located on geological formations made up of sandstones of different sizes and composition. Its characteristics favor the concentration of sugar, total polyphenols and total anthocyanins in the grapes.
It includes the departments of Rivera - it is characterized by vineyards on hills and red earth soils - and Tacuarembó.
Rivera: Cerro Chapeu in Rivera department is characterized by its vineyards on the sides of hills and slopes, around 220 meters high, and its deep red sand soils with very good drainage. Due to its continental site, close to the Campanha region of south Brazil, it shares many of its climatic conditions: seasons are drier and there are longer sun hours. It is an especially good region for late-maturing varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.