Uruguayan wines of historical quality are launched into the world

Specialized in the high-end market, the country will showcase an excellent harvest in 2020, according to experts.
Publication date: 08/06/2020

Uruguay's wine industry, specialized in a high-end market niche, is preparing for the release of wines from the 2020 harvest, described as "historic" by experts, to a world marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South American country, whose wine exports at the beginning of this year reached some USD 3.4 million, surpassed the figures recorded for the same period in 2018 and 2019.

Niche market

Therefore, and although the experts know about the difficulties they face in a world almost paralyzed by the pandemic, they bet on "this year's quality" as a safe value "for the future".

This is what the president of the National Institute of Vitiviniculture (INAVI), oenologist José María Lez says. The head of the Institute states that this situation occurs in a "quality increase", which is part of public policies in collaboration with the private sector. These guidelines aim to "have a route" of reaffirmation in the external market.

Lez is aware that the current global health crisis will have an impact and highlights the "particularity" of Uruguay as a niche market, which allows them to have a quality that is located in "a certain range of commercialization".

INAVI is especially attentive to how the crisis is developing in countries such as Brazil and the United States, two of its main export destinations, and does not rule out planning a special action for the second half of the year. 

The blessed nature 

According to the experts, for a harvest to be cataloged as "historic", the natural environment must provide the perfect conditions so that wine production does not suffer any mishaps. 

The winemakers consider that for the 2020 harvest all the meteorological conditions were present to achieve a good ripening of the grapes, both in terms of color and polyphenolic load, so that Uruguay could develop one of the highest quality productions in its history. 

The president of the Uruguayan Association of Winemakers, Fernando Pettenuzzo, explains that the 2020 harvest will be "memorable". He pointed out that in his 20 harvests of experience, this has been the only one where all the grapes in the country completed their vegetation cycle, ripening, sugar content, pH, acidity, and different aromatic varietal characteristics. 

"If we have very good raw material it is very likely that we will have excellent wine. It is directly proportional. I remember very good harvests, but a harvest like this one, whEN we were able to harvest all the varieties from all the departments of Uruguay, is the only one of its kind. I can personally say that it is a historical harvest", he says. 

From the winery to the world 

According to INAVI data, 159 wineries pressed almost 94 million kilos of grapes this year, 10.75% more than in 2019, when 83 million kilos were registered. 

The general manager of one of the main wine exporting companies in Uruguay, Bodega Garzón, Christian Wylie, does not hide his happiness after this "historic" harvest, which he describes as being prepared since January and which they plan to export to around 50 countries.

Despite the health crisis, they expect to have a 10% growth over the previous year.

In that sense, Wylie emphasizes that "it is a blessing" that within the wineries there are "safe and sound" wines of "very high" quality. In his opinion, this harvest has had "the best quality in history", something that will help them "get back on track with growth and success" in the world.

The owner of the Favretto Dragone family winery, Lucía Favretto, explains that "the good thing" about having a harvest like this is that "the climate does not hurry", as there are no health problems with the grapes and if "they are all good" you can try to make "an infinite number" of different fine or table wines. 

"There will be higher quality, not only in the line of fine wines, of those grapes that were worked for fine wines but also for most of the Uruguayan table wines. There the quality will be much higher than what we were used to", she asserts.

According to data provided by INAVI, Uruguay obtained eight medals -two gold and six silver- in the 2020 editions of the Vinalies Internationales and the Bacchus International Wine Competition. Only time will confirm whether the 2020 harvest is historic, as specialists say. 

(EFE - Raúl Martínez)