Colombian Wine: A Visit to the Gorgeous Marqués de Villa de Leyva Vineyards & Winery

When you think “wine vacation,” Colombia, not surprisingly, probably doesn’t come to mind.  South America has some world-class vineyards in Argentina and Chile, but Colombia has never made those those lists.  Nevertheless, Colombia boasts two (maybe three…still waiting for confirmation that the third one is working), wineries that, while not top-of-the-line producers, are decent and very interesting to visit, especially for the wine enthusiast.  Colombian wines are interesting to me because (1) Colombian wine is only found in Colombia; and (2) the grapes are grown at a very high altitude in the Andes mountains – unique in the commercial grape growing world.  In any case, once I heard about “Colombian wineries,” I knew that I had to hit a vineyard on my trip!

Both of Colombia’s visitable vineyards – Marqués de Villa de Leyva and Marqués de Puntalarga – are located in the Boyacá department of Colombia, which is not terribly far from Bogotá.  While they are located in the same department, the two vineyards are located about 2 hours driving distance apart.  We opted to visit Marqués de Leyva because it is near Villa de Leyva, where we planned a day trip from Bogotá.  If visiting, note that while Marqués de Villa de Leyva is near Villa de Leyva and shares a name, it is not in Villa de Leyva and it is not within walking distance of Villa de Leyva.  You will need to rent or hire a car once in town, or schedule it in a private tour, like we did!  Note – if you are driving or renting a car, the winery and vineyards are located down a dirt road outside of town with few signs.  Print directions in Spanish before you leave home and bring them with you –  not too many people were familiar with the winery!

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As mentioned, we visited Marqués de Villa de Leyva as part of a private tour of the greater Villa de Leyva area.  Our tour of the winery got off to a rough start as our driver got lost, but he did end up finding the winery and we made the final tour of the day.  Below is the entrance, not exactly attention-grabbing.

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The first thing you will notice entering the grounds is that Marqués de Villa de Leyva is in a gorgeous location (it really could be any wine producing region anywhere in the world and it would make a fabulous venue for a party!).  We arrived shortly after a rain storm and the sun had just come back out.  The grounds were absolutely stunning!

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I mean, seriously.

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Shortly after we arrived, it started raining again…but the tour continued.  Side note on the tour – if you are not part of a bus tour, you can join the small tour and tasting that runs approximately once every hour and is of minimal cost.  These tours are in Spanish (no English – our tour guide translated) and you are “required” to reserve ahead of time, although we did not.  The tour started in the vineyard with a history lesson on the vineyard and some background on the winery.  To my surprise, Marqués de Villa de Leyva has been around for almost 30 years and has competed and won awards at international wine festivals!  During the tour, the guide was very knowledgable about the grapes and was very proud to show off their experimental grapes.  Umbrellas were provided for purposes of the tour!

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After the tour, we returned inside for a tour of the wine producing facilities and then down to the basement to see the aging process.  After all that, it was time for my favorite part – the tasting!  However, I was a bit disappointed.  The tour only included one tasting of one white wine.  The tasting was hefty, but I really would have liked to have tried more than one type of wine.  I don’t love white wine and our guide had talked about all different types of wine, including reds, made by the vineyard.  We tried to buy a tasting of red (and even offered to buy the entire bottle) but there was actually no red available at all.  In any case, the white was good (not great) and we purchased a bottle of rosé to take home.

STEAL OUR TOUR

Marqués de Villa de Leyva: Km 10 Vía Villa De Leyva – Santa Sofia.  T: 258 9933 – 216 7496 – 633 2837 Option 2.  Mobile: 317 518 2746.  E-mail: mvelasquez@marquesvl.com
Open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday thru Sunday including holidays.  The website states that reservations are compulsory, but, as I mentioned, we did not have one and had no problem.  I would call ahead if visiting again.

Tours of Colombia – We visited Marqués de Villa de Levya as part of a private tour to Villa de Leyva with Tours of Colombia.  We requested to visit the winery as part of our tour.  The tour company was excellent, our guide Jahir spoke perfect English (he grew up in the U.S.) and the company tailored the tour to what we wanted to do.  I am certain they could set up a “vineyard” tour if that is something that interests you.

 

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