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Being a country of medium dimensions, Uruguay is located between two countries territorially much bigger as are Argentina and Brazil. A privileged geographic situation on the Río de la Plata, with exit to the Atlantic Ocean, is the evident strategic value from which our country benefits.

The Andes are characterised by their enormous dimensions. However the Río de la Plata and its grape growing are recognised by the minimalist vocation of the land, with many details and individualities, micro landscapes, the calcareous terroirs, and in addition the infinite variability of the minds and the hands of each grape grower and owner of a vineyard.
With a 176,215 surface km2, Uruguay extends 5 degrees from North to South (30º to 35º South latitude) and 5 degrees from East to West (53º to 58º of Western length). One stretch then, of around 500 km of distances in both senses, which determines a territory of medium extension within the worldwide assembly of countries.
In the North region the annual average temperature is of 19,5º C and 1500 mm of annual precipitation, whereas in the South region it is of 16,5º and 900 mm annual of precipitation.

The proximity of the Southern region to the Ocean allows sufficiently low nocturnal temperatures to obtain grapes with much flavour and aromatic concentration.
Uruguayan grape growing has been characterised, with small producers of autogenerated capital and familiar hand labour. This has given our viticulture a quasi-European profile, with small parcels, usually not larger than 10 has and wines of a great originality and personality. Small gems that shine here and there with their particular style as a result of climate, the land and the family tradition.
The fresh wind of the night comes from the sea and brings with himself important oscillations of day and night temperature, which influences in a fundamental way the complexity of aromas of the grapes giving fruity wines, but at the same time well structured and long in the mouth. The cold current of the Malvinas that passes by our coast and refreshes it, has Antarctic origin as well as the Polar air masses that are originated in the Pacific Ocean to the Southeast of the South American continent and on the South Atlantic Ocean. These winds periodically sweep the south of our territory with their low temperature and their low humidity content. 


The history of Uruguayan grapes and wines is as old as the country. It is possible to situate the arrival of the first grapevines to the Southwest of Uruguay directly from Spain, as early as the first half of the 17th century. Pérez Castellanos considers the beginnings to be poor in variety of grapes. Those first vine-stocks, probably muscatels, were cultivated exclusively for the use of the family. After this non-industrial phase comes a period of transition, in which the vines grow in number but not in commercial value.
In 1870 Pascual Harriague resumes wine-grape cultivation with a definite commercial goal in mind starting with French originated Tannat vines. He is considered the true initiator of Uruguayan viticulture. During those years Francisco Vidiella began to cultivate some varieties that came from Europe in the South. Folle Noire, the French variety later known as Vidiella produced the first vintage in 1883. Around 1880 a third variety was added, Gamay Noir, a French variety that was called Borgoña. The cultivation of Cabernet and other varieties such as Bobal, Garnacha, Monastrel, Barbera, Nebbiolo, etc. also started to develop.

By the end of the 19th century the first wine law was proclaimed and the wine industry entered a period of greater strength. At that moment the Uruguayan State decided to award prizes to the greatest volumes of national wine produced. In 1884, Vidiella and Harriague were the first ones to receive such distinctions.
During the first part of the 20th century, the quality control, the teaching of vitiviniculture in the School of Agronomy and the School of Vitiviniculture, and the growth of national enterprises, resulted in the historic maximum of 19.000 hectares (47.000 acres) of cultivated vineyards in the 50's.

 Today the cultivated area is 9.000 hectares (22.250 acres), a smaller but improved surface. The selection of grape varieties done by the growers, and the technologies used are more proper regarding the specific needs of the different wine-growing areas. The number of registered vineyards goes past 3.500, of which 88 percent are smaller than 5 hectares (12.5 acres).

 There are more than 300 wineries which produce an average of 95 million litters (25 million gallons) annually. From Colonial times to the present, Uruguayan wine industry has grown into today's excellent reality. Today our country's industry exports to many countries and it continues to improve its quality. 

Uruguayan grapes and wines have  reached a singular state of maturity. This is what national and foreign experts have stated, and what the international distinctions Uruguayan wines have obtained in the past years have demonstrated. The conscious work made by the Industry towards excellency and improved efficiency, was recognised at the 75th World Meeting of the Vineyard and Wine International Office, held in Uruguay (Punta del Este) in 1995.
Uruguayan wines have a long tradition and a short but growing recognition. In the70's, the Uruguayan wine industry initiated a new era towards excellency, renewing vine-stocks and perfecting the process of wine elaboration and production.
We think in bunches of berries per plant instead of kilograms per hectare. Each plant is an individual and must be treated that way in order to produce the high quality grapes we require.
Our planting system is the traditional espalier and density goes from 4000 to 5000 plants per hectare (1 meter between plants in the row and from 2 to 2,5 meters between rows) depending of soil type and variety, clone and rootstock vigour. We search for equilibrated vines that produce 2 or 3 kilograms per plant depending of the variety’s characteristics.
   We never made any concessions in terms of quality and when many wineries grew acquiring big tanks and vats to fill them with poor grapes to compete in the low priced wines market, my father César stubbornly planted low producing Tannats that gave strong wines but less money. Everybody said he was crazy not to plant high yielding varieties, but he knew his best investment was to teach his children to be proud of the wines he produced.
 I felt that way when being 5 or 6 years old he used to take me along to sell the wines and people said he had the best wines in Uruguay.
 But few people knew them and since then I felt committed to make our wines known and try to always better their quality. I feel we have greatly succeeded in Uruguay and we intend to emulate so in other countries.
Each of three brothers and father has his own house and live in the vineyards. We are a big family of 16. Our children grow playing among the rows of vines. They already know the names and can distinguish among different varieties at the age of 5. We think we are lucky to be able to work together in the Family and to live out of what we love.

          Daniel Pisano
          Exports Manager

©2005 Isotoxin Industries