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4 Days Wine and Cheese Trails Culinary Tours in Uruguay

4 Days Wine and Cheese Trails Culinary Tours in Uruguay

  • Nueva Helvecia - Colonia - Montevideo

Uruguayan Food and Wine Holidays

Given the easy access from Buenos Aires to some of Uruguays most noteworthy attractions, its amazing how long the country has remained off the beaten path. That is all about to change! You will be introduce to gastronomical charms, with enough time to enjoy the attractions of the most interesting cities in Uruguay such as Uruguay's oldest settlement, port city of Colonia. Or the sophisticated capital city of Montevideo with its colonial and Art Deco architecture, fine dining and eclectic neighborhoods. There is a lot to see, and more to taste. This gourmet holiday will leave you wanting to come back for more.

Highlights

  • 2 vineyard visits
  • 3 cheese farm visits and tasting
  • Uruguay signature wine tasting Tannat
  • Walking tour of the old city Montevideo
  • 3 breakfasts, lunch, dinner
  • 3 nights accommodation
  • 2 days with instruction
  • Spanish, English
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Hotel La Mision ***, Colonia, Uruguay

The hotel is framed by trees surrounding a refurbished eighteenth century house that maintains its original stone walls and its courtyard with a well, complimenting the Old Spanish architecture. Each room is decorated to compliment the construction, maintaining its ancient style but gifted with modern comforts. All rooms come with air conditioning, color television, refridgerator, telephone, private bathroom and 24 hour room service.

My Suites Boutique & Wine Bar ****, Montevideo, Uruguay

Top quality service to satisfy our customers expectations. We are committed to reach the best standards on wine tasting instances in order to provide our visitors with a unique experience to assure they will be eager to come back again. Its well-equipped rooms provide guests with the maximum comfort: state-of-the-art technology and decorated walls with original paintings of local artists.

NH Montevideo Columbia ****, Montevideo, Uruguay

Amid the neo-classical and art deco structures of Montevideos city center, the hotel beckons guests with its contemporary appeal. Youll take comfort in the warm atmosphere and modern design. All 136 rooms carefully blend bright accents, rich wood floors and furnishings against the scenic waterfront views to create a soothing environment youll eagerly ease into at the end of a long day.

Posada Plaza Mayor ****, Colonia, Uruguay

The inn is a quiet and magical place built in a house from 1860. A central courtyard garden welcomes you, endowed with a rich florals, and a beautiful fountain which commemorates former spanish patios and accompanying guests with the constant sound of water. The inn has 15 rooms. All rooms have a private bathroom, air conditioning, hot and cold water, telephone, and Tv with DirecTv cable connection.

Day 1: Meeting point, transfer, ferry ride, cheese farm visits, free time

Buenos Aires - Colonia - Nueva Helvecia

In the morning you will be picked up at your Buenos Aires hotel and taken to the port for your ferry ride across Rio Uruguay.

On arriving in Colonia, you will be transferred to tonights lodgings in the quiet inland town of Nueva Helvecia in the heart of Colonias cheese-making region.

After getting settled, in the afternoon you will tour three of the areas cheese farms to taste and learn about the countrys artisanal cheese traditions.

Youll return to La Posada de Ofelia for dinner and a restful night.

Meal plan: lunch, dinner

Day 2: Transfer, excursion, free time

Nueva Helvecia - Montevideo

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the bus station for the trip to exciting Montevideo.

A driver will be waiting to get you checked into your Montevideo hotel and take you to enjoy a typical asado lunch at the popular gathering place, 19th century Mercado del Puerto.

Afterwards, youll take a walking tour of the old city and visit nearby museums.

You will return to your hotel for an evening on your own and overnight stay.

Meal plan: breakfast

Day 3: Free time, winery visits

Montevideo

After a leisurely morning and lunch on your own, you will spend the afternoon touring two vineyards in a wine region near the capital and get to taste Uruguays signature wine, Tannat.

Youll return to your hotel for a last evening on your own in the capital.

Meal plan: breakfast

Day 4: Departure

Montevideo

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport or ferry terminal to make your connections to your next destination, ending your travel to Uruguay with Southern Explorations.

Meal plan: breakfast

Smaller than any other south American country except Suriname, tiny Uruguay is wedged between two goliaths, Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay is bordered on two sides by water. It shares the Uruguay River and Rio de la Plata with Argentina, comprising its western and northwestern borders. A 410-mile stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline lies to the south. Its eastern and northeastern borders are with Brazil. Uruguays location gives the country a pleasant climate year-round with warm summers and cool though not harsh winters.

Uruguay has neither a dry nor rainy season, though its flat landscape makes for sudden shifts in weather. Coastal winds and the lack of a substantial economic base in manufacturing minimize air pollution. Though most of its population lives in metropolitan areas, Uruguay is primarily a rural landscape, 75% of which is ranch land where cattle and sheep are raised and 10% planted in agricultural crops. Grasslands comprise the countrys southern regions with a more diverse, undulating terrain and rivers in the interior and north.

Called the Uruguayan Riviera, the ocean beaches have long been the countrys major draw for tourists who travel to Uruguay, attracting a multitude of foreign vacationers to such resort villages as Punta del Este. Increasingly, visitors on Uruguay tours are traveling to the interior to stay in the countrys historic estancias. The tug-a-war for European control of the territory that is today Uruguay lasted two centuries, fought over first by the Spanish and Portuguese, then briefly by the British.

Like most everything else in here, few visitors who travel to Uruguay have heard of the countrys wines. Though Uruguay has been growing wine grapes for centuries, a tradition begun by the Jesuits, until the late nineteenth century, quantity superseded quality. When sampling wine during your Uruguay tours, you will find two classes of wine from which to choose. You will probably want to stick with the higher quality vitis vinifera wines and steer away from the lower grade vino comun unless you enjoy ros.

Uruguay is blessed with a mild climate, lots of sun and well-drained soil in the countrys western regions. Though the winds off the Atlantic and Rio Plata offer the cool night conditions that wine grapes need, growers must contend with unpredictable weather and in some areas, strong winds. Humidity here makes the vines disease-prone, more so in the interior where there is flatter terrain and stronger winds.

Unpredictable weather patterns tend to make for wide variability among vintages, though it is possible to grow wine grapes in Uruguay without the need of irrigation. Until recent times, the way vintners dealt with the weather problem was to produce hybrids which tended to be of lower, albeit drinkable, quality. Modern times have brought more sophisticated growing techniques that blunt the effects of weather variability, eliminating the need to resort to hybrids.

Uruguay contains twenty-one viticultural districts. Three-quarters of Uruguays wine production is in reds, almost forty percent of which is Tannat, a grape brought here by Basque immigrants. The hearty Tannat is to Uruguay as Malbec is to Argentina, a grape that can fully ripen on the vine and is the countrys best-known wine. Though Uruguay is home to some three hundred wineries, many are family-owned, and only a few are exported.

Uruguayan cuisine

Dinner, usually served late, is definitely worth the wait. Restaurants specializing in grilled meats are plentiful here. So expect a divine grilled experience, savoring aged, grass-fed beef cuts as well as a garlic sausage. Grilled meat dishes will often be accompanied by the deep green chimichurri sauce that combines the Italian influence of pesto with the peppery delight of Latin America. In Uruguay, charcoal is not the fuel of choice; meats are grilled over wood embers. To travel to Uruguay without eating a steak is like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower.

Vegetarians will find an array of meatless omelets, frittatas and entree pies, including the popular pascualina, containing spinach or Swiss chard. Along the coast, vegetarians will encounter lechuga de mar, nutrient-rich seaweed, served in omelets. Street-corner dining offers empanadas with cheese and onion filling instead of meat. Italian cuisine is ubiquitous throughout Uruguay, with a vast array of meatless pasta sauces, ensuring that vegetarians will not go hungry.

Among its mid-day offerings, Uruguay is known for its steak sandwich, called the chivito. Other popular snack foods include empanadas, choripan, a sausage sandwich on French bread, and a Milanesa sandwich, usually consisting of breaded beef or chicken cutlet with all the fixins. When ordering pizza, visitors on Uruguay tours should be aware that some varieties, including the one called pizza, are prepared without cheese. Dont be surprised to find your pizza accompanied by French bread, an interesting Uruguayan tradition.

Visitors who like their desserts rich and sweet will find happiness when they travel to Uruguay. Flan is found most everywhere. The caramel and milk concoction, called dulce de leche, is an ingredient used as a filling for churros, pancakes and cookies such as alfajores that contain a dollop between shortbread outer layers. Dulce de leche may also be found among the layers of the classic French Napoleon, called a milhoja. A sweet treat available on many street corners is garrapinada, caramel-corn-like peanuts, rolled in vanilla, sugar and sometimes cocoa.

Wine in Uruguay and the traditional Tannat

Memorable culinary experiences await those who travel to Uruguay, carnivores and herbivores alike. Fine regional wines, both white and red, add to the pleasure of the countrys legendary steaks and the bounty of its seafood, caught fresh from Uruguays rivers and the Atlantic. Southwest Uruguay is a Mecca for wine and artisan cheese lovers who travel to Montevideo. Both delicious products were introduced in Uruguay by immigrants who brought with them vines as well as their viticulture and cheese-making traditions over 250 years ago.

Dark and dense with strong tannin, the red wine, Tannat, is as closely associated with Uruguay as Malbec is with Argentina. Previously grown mostly in Madiran, a small wine region in southwestern France, this obscure French varietal proved an excellent match for the soil and climate of Uruguay. It was the Swiss who introduced cheese-making to their new homeland. Uruguay is prime grape-growing country.

The wine regions of Uruguay cross the same parallels as Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, the other great wine-growing regions of the Southern Hemisphere. Among South American producers, Uruguay ranks fourth after Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, though it is also true that Uruguay produces but a small fraction of the grapes that go into the making of the hemispheres varietal wines. It is these varietal wines, from grapes high in quality and low in yield, that Uruguay exports.

  • 3 nights accommodation
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks and archaeological sites
  • Ferry ticket
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
  • International airfare is not included.