Our days in Uruguay

We were very excited to finally actually be in Uruguay and see some wineries firsthand. We had time to visit two wineries. One quite large and more commercial with tours and a wine tasting lunch in the sleek, modern restaurant and the other winery small and family-oriented, each with excellent wines. Our original plan was to rent a car and drive to the wineries but upon learning that Uruguay has a zero tolerance alcohol policy (as in ZERO, nada!) we quickly ditched the car in favor of being driven. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than the thought of possibly spending time in a Uruguayan jail!! Actually, having the car and driver was cheaper then keeping the rental car so it was a wine/win. On a bright, sunny Tuesday morning we were on our way to Bodega Bouza for a winery tour, lunch and a visit to their vintage car museum. Bodega Bouza is very conveniently situated close to the city of Montevideo and is less than a twenty minute drive from the city. The English tour we had scheduled was comprimised of two dozen Brazilians and the two of us, meaning the tour was actually given in Portugese! Our guide Jorge did an amazing job repeating his information in English for us and answering our many questions.

The property is meticulously maintained and the vineyards are the first we’ve ever seen where palm trees are growing alongside the vines.

Even though this is a large winery they have had the same winemaker since day one, Edoardo Boido. In 1998 Juan and Elisa Bouza purchased 16 hectares in Las Violets and begun their venture into the world of wine. Four years later in 2002 an old winery and vineyards came up for sale. This property which is now Bodega Bouza, has been reinvented by the Bouzas. They removed old vines and replanted with Tempranillo, Merlot and Uruguay’s signature red grape Tannat. They also some white varietals. Then they hired Edoardo as their winemaker, renovated the buildings on the property, constructed a beautiful, sleek restaurant and today their success is evident. The Bouzas are passionate about quality and that is revealed the second you sniff and swirl the wine in your glass.

Grapes are harvested very early in the morning pickers are done by five or six AM. Temperatures here rise quickly. All the wines see a bit of wood ageing with reds spending eighteen months or so and whites between three to eight months. They use American oak, French oak and Slovenian oak. One interesting fact is they toast the oak in a convection oven, something that is normally done with a flame.

Bouza exports 3,000 cases of wine a year to the US. Considering their total production is around 10,000 cases a year we are lucky to see that much. They have recently purchased additional property and plan on growing Riesling and Pinot Noir. Let’s see how they continue to expand in the future. Bodega Bouza – a name to remember for fine Uruguayan wine! Best of all you can find it on our shelves too!