Carmelo, Uruguay

Your next wine destination: Carmelo, Uruguay. This cute, little wine region is easily accessible from Montevideo or Buenos Aires. Its two main squares are filled with cobblestones, parillas (steakhouses), and cars from the 1940s and 1950s. Beaches and lavender line the Arroyo de las Vacas river. While the countryside has grazing cattle, fields of wildflowers, the scent of rosemary, and hillside vineyards. And whereas most up-and-coming wine spots haven’t attracted boutique hotels yet, Carmelo has not one but three amazing places to stay.

Photo: Narbona Wine Lodge
Photo: Narbona Wine Lodge

The Narbona Wine Lodge, just north of Carmelo, sits beside some of the area’s oldest vineyards. Learn about the winemaking process at La Antigua Cava. The 1909 building has an old wood stove, candelabras, French oak barrels, and hanging ham. Move to the new winery, whose stone walls are lined with fossilized seashells, to taste the full-bodied Tannat, Uruguay’s national wine. Then sip a glass of Tannat rosé by the pool, ride a horse-drawn wagon through the vineyard, and watch the sun set between the rows of grapes from the Patio Colonial. The comfy rooms, each named after a type of grape, have concrete floors, fireplaces, and balconies overlooking the old vines, of course.

Photo: Casa-Chic
Photo: Casa-Chic

Prefer modern over rustic? If so, Casa Chic is your Carmelo hotel. The riverfront hotel is surrounded by ponds, horses, and a forest. Raw wood, black-and-white artwork, and a comfortable king-sized bed are set up in your spacious room. Relax by the seemingly endless pool in the morning. Eat grilled Camembert and rosemary crostinis with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc on the patio. Bike down to the calm, white sandy beach in the afternoon. Then feast on ceviche and langoustines, catfish and pork chops for a late dinner. Once you make your way through the enormous wine list first.

Photo: Posada CampoTinto
Photo: Posada CampoTinto

Your third option isn’t really a room. Posada CampoTinto, in the San Roque countryside, has four rooms with views of the San Roque Chapel. But your bed is in the tent outside. Made in South Africa, the large tent has a wooden deck and views of the vineyards. Spend the morning visiting the nearby wineries: Bodega Familia Irurtia, El Legado Bodega, and Almacén de la Capilla. Return to the hotel for a picnic lunch of freshly baked bread, cheese, and warm empanadas overlooking the vines. Drink tea in the light-filled living room. And select your favorite bottle of wine to drink near the bonfire by your tent later in the evening. The starry sky pairs perfectly with the heavy red.

Well, that was easy. You have your choice between three small hotels right near the vineyards in Uruguay’s most exciting wine region. Now you can focus on the most important part of your trip: the wine.

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