Some tourists are fans of packaged tours and some are not. We most certainly enjoy blazing our own trail and setting up our adventures wherever we travel. That’s why when we recently made our way to Uruguay we immediately set out to see how we could rent a car from Montevideo the capital and get out to explore this country’s delicious but still largely unknown wineries.
Getting out to the vineyards by yourself:
While there are tour services and even wineries close enough to Montevideo that you can take an Uber there, Car rentals are very affordable. We found it came to $30 per day. Gas is expensive however. Some of the best wineries in the country are located 2-3 hours from the capital in the area around Punta del Este. This can be a great day trip combined with sightseeing and tasting at the vineyards. Here are two excellent one we recommend:
Alto de la Ballena
This humble country road holds a beautiful estate perched on a hill. The vineyards are quite small really and olive oil production is getting underway too. One can drive onto the farm and walk the roads in business hours and there is a daily tour and tasting at 11am the cost is $30 USD. There are private tours available too. Just arriving, touching the soil is a thrill. Their products are found in grocery stores around the country.
This is an elite conglomerate of vineyards whose tasting bar and museum produces only 4 well done products. Step inside this mansion overlooking the panoramic countryside and dine in the on site restaurant or make a purchase. Wine is more affordable on site than in other locations and the restaurant is quite upscale. There is a bar section as well. The tours and tastings need to be booked ahead of time and the restaurant is often full.
All things considered Uruguay has amazing roads and picture perfect farms which are manicured to the last detail Renting a car can give one the freedom to explore many wineries in one or several days. Be advised that in Uruguay there is a zero tolerance policy on driving under the influence of alcohol. Thus the driver will have to abstain or wait quite some time before departure from a tasting.