Uruguay’s Wine Industry

History of Uruguay Wine

Uruguayan wine followed many of the same trends as its South American counterparts, apart from commencing wine production slightly later than the rest of the continent.

The production of wine in Uruguay began in the early 18th century with influences from Spain – and we’ve got an overview of Spanish wine too. However, the commercial production of wine began officially in the year 1870 after French influences introduced Tannet (by far, Uruguay’s most important grape) along with others. In the 1970s the Uruguayan wine industry turned its focus toward the production of finer, higher quality wines and in 1988 the Vitivinicultural National Institute’s (INAVI) work with State growers to modernize the industry and to help with economic plans marked 20 years of improved quality and modernization.

Uruguayan Wine Today

Today, Uruguay is recognized as a powerhouse of South American wine, despite its small size mostly due to its high quality. Uruguay’s wine production lies within 10,000 hectares of vineyards operated by approximately 270 wineries – most run by small families with long histories in the industry. The region of highest production is located just north of the capital in a region called Canelones where Uruguay sees 60% of its wine production take place. The variety of grapes produced are a result of Uruguay’s climate and Tannet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier are some of the most excellently turned out wines coming from Uruguayan vineyards. Uruguay’s wineries enjoy sunshine over 220 days a year, and the Atlantic coast keeps the vineyards well ventilated. The subtropical climate mirrors that of Bordeaux France and soil conditions and quality control are closely monitored. Residing on approximately the same latitude as Chile’s and Argentina’s wine belts, Uruguay enjoys a similar climate as well as the same success as its neighbors. Uruguay’s exports are to other Latin American countries as well as Europe and to specific regions of the United States. Its focus on quality and high standards have made Uruguay an important name in the world of wine.