Uruguayan wine

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A Tannat wine from Uruguay.

Uruguay is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America, with a production of 109,001 tonnes in 2008.[1] There are over 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) of vineyards in Uruguay.[2]

The signature wines of Uruguay are red wines produced from Tannat grapes.[3][4]


Location of Uruguay

The modern wine industry in Uruguay dates back to 1870, and the wine industry was started by immigrants of mainly Basque and Italian origin.[2] In 1870, Tannat was introduced to the country by Don Pascual Harriague, a Basque.[3]

When the Mercosur free trade association started to take shape in the late 1980s, Uruguay took steps to increase the quality of its wines and stepped up its marketing efforts, due to fear of being out-competed by Chilean wines and Argentine wines, which had lower production costs.

Classification system[edit]

There are two levels of classification for Uruguay wines:[2]

Wine regions[edit]

Wine regions of Uruguay

Most of the vineyards of Uruguay are located in the hills north of the capital Montevideo, in particular in the departments Canelones, Montevideo and San José,[3] but there are at least some vineyards in 16 out of 19 departments.[2]

Grape varieties[edit]

A Cabernet Sauvignon from Uruguay.

Among the vinifera grapes, Tannat is the most common (36%). Other common varieties are Merlot (10%), Chardonnay (7%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%), Sauvignon blanc (6%), and Cabernet Franc (4%).[2] Muscat Hamburg is still a common variety for VC-classified rosé wines.[2]

Much of Uruguay's vineyards have previously been planted with American and hybrid grape varieties.


  1. ^ "Wine production (tons)". Food and Agriculture Organization. p. 28. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). "Uruguay". Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 723. ISBN 0-19-860990-6. 
  3. ^ a b c Uruguay - South America's 'other' wine country, Wink Lorch, wine-pages.com, accessed 2011-03-06
  4. ^ Uruguay is wine world's rising star, The Telegraph 2010-03-19