Uruguay wine is garnering a good reputation and loyal following abroad, especially in BRIC nations where demand for bulk wine is strongest.
El Pais’ Pablo Antunez says Uruguay will export record amounts of both wine (14 million liters) and grape juice (3 million liters) in the first half of 2012. In the first two months of this year, Uruguay exported 4 million liters of bulk wine to Russia and China.
Today Uruguay is exporting 17% of the country’s wine production, and industry officials expect that percentage to grow to 20 or 25% by the end of this year. Uruguay has 220 vineyards with 50,000 workers producing several varietals including Tannat, the country’s signature grape and leading export to foreign markets.
While Uruguay bulk wines are gaining market share in emerging markets, the country’s premium wines have been garnering medals at several international wine competitions. According to Impulso Negocios, 22 Uruguayan wines won gold and silver medals in 2011 in Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Hungary and Switzerland.
Basque immigrants first introduced Tannat to Uruguay in 1870, and the grape is perfectly suited for the country’s soil and climate. Today, Tannat accounts for one-third of the grapes grown on Uruguay’s 20,000 acres of vineyards. In addition to quality Tannats, many boutique wineries in Uruguay offer unique blends that combine Tannat with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir.
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