Drink Local: Bodega Garzón Welcomes The World to the Pinnacle of Uruguayan Vintners

Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – a panorama of the vineyards (part of a total of 250 hectares [625 acres] of vineyards, out of a total estate of 5,000 hectares [12,500 acres]) with 16 grape varietals grown
On our first day in Punta del Este, we had a great food and wine experience as members of our ship’s wine society, L’Ordre Illustre des Chevaliers De Meduse, Priory (of our ship).  We drove 2 hours northeast from Punta del Este to Garzón in the Maldonado Department to visit the young wine and dining estate, Bodega Garzón.

Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – a close-up of the rain-filled irrigation lake on the property, in the midst of the vineyards

Located northwest of the fashionable fishing village of José Ignacio, Bodega Garzón winery may have opened only in 2016, but it is already spearheading the Uruguayan wine scene.  The winery was voted New World Winery of the Year 2019 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  For several years since 2018, Bodega Garzón has been voted into the top 5 of the World’s Best Wineries, the only Uruguayan winery to represent the country in the top 50 of 2021.  We had a great experience at the estate.

Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – the winery building that was completed in 2007; the winery produces white, rosé, red, and sparkling wines in an Atlantic-influenced New World style

Last year Bodega Garzón harvested 2,250,000 kilograms of grapes.  Note that one kilogram of grapes will produce one 750-ml bottle (a “fifth”) of finished table wine.  The 2023 harvest thus yielded about 187,500 12-bottle cases of finished wine.  All the vineyard grapes are harvested by hand each year for maximum quality.

Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – on our vineyard tour we stopped in the shade for a snack of olives, cheese, focaccia and Lavosh crackers with some wine – a Sauvignon Blanc and an Orange wine
Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – red grapes had changed color from green to purple, with more ripening before harvest in March

From the first vintage of Tannat in 2010, the winery has grown, and production has expanded, with a current capacity of 2 million liters per year, which is the biggest production capacity of any winery in Uruguay.  The winery’s biggest export market for quality wines is the United States, while the market in Brazil is the largest annually by volume of wine shipped.

Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – the winery’s laboratory has a great view of the vineyards in the valley, below, in the distance

The winery estate has some of the world’s oldest granitic soils, dating back 2,500 million years.  The granite rock at the winery building that had to be blasted and cut to construct the building is called the “Mother Rock”.

Bodega Garzón, Garzón Maldonado, Uruguay – modern concrete fermentation tanks and some older wooden tanks in the background; note that the 4-story building uses gravity for the flow of wine juice from crushing, then fermentation and barrel ageing, on successively lower floors
Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – a cutout on the lowest level of the winery building shows the striking “Mother Rock” granite that the winery was built around and is part of the architecture
Bodega Garzón, Garzón, Maldonado, Uruguay – one of the barrel ageing rooms; they each also contain “riddling racks” for ageing sparkling wines in their bottles


Photography courtesy of Richard E.

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