The Canelones wine region, Uruguay’s most popular wine region, is located just outside of Montevideo. Since its so close to Montevideo, its definitely feasible to explore some of its wineries on a day trip from Montevideo. As you may know, Dan and I are big fans of Uruguayan wine, and we decided to fit in a little wine touring when we were in Montevideo last Thanksgiving!
A day trip to Canelones is very easy if you have a rental car; you can just drive from Montevideo and park on site. If you don’t have a car, some companies run tours from Montevideo or you could hire an Uber. We did not have a car, but we came across an offer from Bodega Bouza to participate in a 1/2 day tour with lunch and transportation to and from our hotel, and we signed up for it! The tour was very well run and I would absolutely do this tour again.
Our tour started at 10:00 AM, when a modern Bouza-braded van picked us up at our hotel (Bouza had emailed a couple weeks before our trip to confirm the pick up time). The van was totally full, so Dan and I squeezed in the front seat next to the driver. We drove about 20 minutes to Bodega Bouza, which is located just outside Montevideo proper.
On arrival at Bodega Bouza, we were dropped off at the main tasting room, which is totally adorable and filled with vintage cars (very Uruguayan – they love their vintage cars!). We had about 10 minutes to check out the gift shop and use the restrooms before our tour started.
Our proper tour lasted about an hour and covered the history of Bodega Bouza in depth, the vineyards, the wine making process, and the cellars. Our tour was in both English and Spanish. Guests were welcome to ask questions and wander a bit on your own.
After our tour of the vineyard, we had lunch at Bouza’s restaurant, which is often ranked as one of Montevideo’s best restaurants!
Since we did the Bouza-packaged tour, Bouza took care of our reservation, and those of the rest of our tour mates. Each party on our was seated at their own table and severs quickly came around to explain the menu and our options. The tour comes with a five course tasting menu with wine pairings.
The way the menu works is that each person can choose one side of each course, for a total of five foods and wines. The food portions are good sized and you will be full at the end of the meal. You will also be at least tipsy; the pours are almost full glasses. Couples do not have to order the same pair, and Dan and I some of the dishes so that we could try everything (but I only took pictures of mine…). I started with the salada fresca and the Reisling. While I do not have a photograph of the salad, it was pretty plan with some tasty Uruguayan cheese. By far the most boring dish on the menu. My salad was paired with a 2016 Riesling, which was crisp and fresh and not sweet at all. We also started with meal with freshly baked bread pairing with local butter, Uruguayan olive oil, and olive tapenade. Dan ordered the pate, which was very rich but not very big. He did not love it. Don’t worry though; the meal gets better!
My second course was the Queijo Tetilla Fundido, which is basically melted tetilla cheese with peppers and a toasted piece of garlic bread for dipping. In short, this was basically really delicious Uruguayan cheese fondue, and the best dish of the meal in my opinion. My cheese dish was paired with a 2018 Albarino white wine, which is pretty popular in Uruguay. Its also a popular grape variety in Portugal! Dan ordered the filet carpaccio, which was actually done really nicely and served with a delicious mustard-based sauce.
For my third course, I ordered the Ravioli with tomato. The ravioli was quite tasty and filed with cheese, but otherwise kind of plain. It was paired with a 2017 Pinot Noir.
The fourth course is really the “main” course of the meal, and it was slightly larger than the other courses. Dan and I both ordered the filet mignon which was served with a potato puree and a 2016 Tannat B26 (I switched from the recommended pairing because I love Tannat). The steak was really good, as were the potatoes.
For dessert, I chose to end the meal with the Folhado de Maca, which was kind of like an apple tart with ice cream. The dessert was paired with a sweet Riesling from 2016.
Dan ordered the other dessert, the bavarois de maracuja, which was much prettier! We finished our meal with a small glass tannat liquor, which was a bit too strong for me! It tasted a lot like grappa.
After lunch, I did some shopping at Bouza’s lovely, yet somewhat pricey, gift shop (too much wine?). Wine or not, I found Bouza to have a good selection of gifts in their shop, including wine gifts, handmade Uruguayan wool attire for men and women and books about Uruguay. I bought a few things… Bouza was also the only place in our entire Uruguayan wine vacation that sold a wine shipper. Needing more space, we purchased the 6 wine shipper for $10 USD. I recommend bringing your own if you really need one!
After lunch, we were driven back to our hotel in the same Bouza-branded van that picked us up, arriving back around 2:30. Keep your eyes open on the drive to and from Bodega Bouza – you will see some crazy things, including real horse driven carriages!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Bodega Bouza: Cno. de la Redención 7658, 12500 Montevideo, Uruguay. Open 9 – 19h. Closed Sunday. Bouza offers a program where it will pick you up from your hotel in Montevideo, take you to Bouza for a tour and lunch with wine pairing and then return you to your hotel for 3,000 Uruguayan Pesos/person. While not cheap, this tour was very easy and the food was delicious. Otherwise, guided tours are 490 Uruguayan pesos/person, a five wine tasting is 1,200 Uruguayan pesos/persona, and transportation to and from the winery is 400 Uruguayan pesos per person. Reservations are strongly recommended and can easily be made on Bouza’s website.
ON A BUDGET
Bodega Bouza is definitely one of the more expensive vineyards in greater Montevideo area. I recommend trying another one or going for just a wine tasting if you are on a budget. Also, if you cannot make it out to the Canelones wine region, check out the Montevideo Wine Experience if you want to try a lot of delicious Uruguayan wine on a budget. They definitely have a lot of wines from Canelones.
Montevideo Wine Experience: Piedras 300, 11100 Montevideo, Uruguay. Purportedly open daily 12h – 23h (only until 20h on Sunday & Monday), but I would call to confirm. They were definitely closed one evening and during the day when we were in town. This is a wine bar, but they do serve plates of meat and cheese to pair with wine. I recommend pairing a tasting here with a meal in the Mercado del Puerto (a few restaurants stay open at night).