Luxury vineyard, winery tap into Uruguay’s fertile soil
In a land built by Spaniards, Italians and Basques, the terroir of Uruguay mimics that of Tuscany. When Argentine billionaire Alejandro P. Bulgheroni first ventured to Uruguay’s Garzón region, he says he “felt the magic of the land.”
For that reason, he purchased 10,000 acres in the heart of the country. After consulting friends and experts about the quality of the land, Bulgheroni was convinced that the soil had ideal conditions to grow grapes. After tapping Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini to come onboard in 2006, Bulgheroni’s vision for Bodega Garzón was born.
Located two hours outside the nation’s capital of Montevideo, the Garzón region (working to become its own appellation), consists of rolling green hills, cattle, an interesting blend of vegetation and the town of Garzón, which celebrated Argentine chef Francis Mallman has put on the map with his Hotel & Restaurant Garzón.
Nearby is chic beach town Jose Ignacio, nicknamed the “Hamptons of South America,” where the jet set crowd goes for the summer, to shop and eat at such renowned restaurants as La Huella and Mallman’s outpost in Garzón.
And now, visitors to the region have an even better reason to come — Bodega Garzón-Bulgheroni’s $100 million winery that celebrated its grand opening this spring.
The first winery in the world seeking LEED certification for its entire facility, Bodega Garzón emanates five-star luxury from the moment you pull up to the entrance. Hidden among acres of lush, green vineyards, the exterior is grand, with clean, contemporary lines, glass, stone and landscaping that is oriented to enhance biodiversity.
Elegant and classy.
The winery reception rivals that of any Four Seasons property, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing a terrace overlooking the vineyards. Fresh roses and candles abound, with sophisticated touches like the lotions and soaps in the bathrooms, provided by Bulgheroni’s wife, Bettina, who created the line of beauty products.
Mallmann, a good friend and business partner of Bulgheroni, designed a stunning, open-flame-focused kitchen and trained the culinary team running the restaurant at Bodega Garzón, soon to be a destination in itself.
A tour of the palatial 205,000-square-foot winery reveals top-of-the-line machinery and concrete “egg” tanks that were imported from Italy. A sexy, candlelit cellar for private events also boasts its own kitchen and lockers for exclusive member tastings.
Thoughtful architecture incorporated pre-existing rock formations and adds an interesting juxtaposition between the smooth and modern lines of the design with the imbalance of nature.
Signature wines, best tasted on the sun-soaked veranda overlooking the property, are Tannat and Albariño.
The Tannat, native to the region, is a silky, well-rounded red that could easily be compared to a Bordeaux, likely because it was brought from there to Uruguay in the late 1800s. Due to the climate and geography, Tannat actually flourishes best in Uruguay, making the country the number one producer in the world.
The Albariño is a crisp white that gives a nod to the Spanish heritage of the land. Originally from northern Spain, this Albariño is decidedly Uruguayan and imparts hints of apricot, white peaches and tangerines.
The combination of multicultural influences brought together by owner, winemaker and the historical composition of Uruguay make Bodega Garzón and its wines truly unique.
In an area that thrives on tourism for a very brief portion of the year (December through March), Bulgheroni hopes to stimulate the local economy by increasing tourism year-round.
With excellent wines, breathtaking views and a dedication to sustainability, Bodega Garzón has arrived — and welcomes you with open arms and a kiss on the cheek.