Guest post by Syd Blackwell
Ruta 12 carves an up-and-down path through the hills of Maldonado, northwest of the resort area of Punta del Este. It is a most beautiful road for a scenic drive. Just four kilometers south of the tiny village of Pueblo Edén, high on one of those hills, is Viña Edén, a winery. The owner is Brazilian, and a passionate oenophile.
The property is huge, but a mere seven hectares are devoted to grapes. The rest has been, and will continue to be, displayed in the natural beauty of this greenest of Uruguayan areas. The views are magnificent. The emphasis here is on quality, not quantity.
We had not pre-booked a visit. We only learned of the winery during a visit to Lote 8, an olive oil farm, located just north of Pueblo Edén. Naturally, we seized the opportunity to see the winery. They are open from 11:00 to 20:30 daily and can easily accommodate unannounced arrivals.
The road that has been created to reach the operations, is already quite a marvel, as it steeply climbs the rocky hillside. The stunning building at the top is sheathed in a deliberately rusting metal, a very natural-looking colour. The windows are immense, maximizing the views. We were immediately greeted by an employee, on the wide terrace in front of the building that looks across the beautiful landscape.
We were offered a tasting tour, a tasting tour with a meal, or, a simple tour without tastings or meal. We chose the last. The tours with tastings or meal are, we think, quite expensive. We are used to free tastings at wineries. Our tour cost US$45 for a party of four, with nothing offered but words. At the end of our tour, we received an IVA discount, that reduced the price down to approximately $8 per person. The tasting tour, with snacks, costs $45 per person and the tasting + meal tour is priced at $65 per person. If one were attracted to the menu, and the idea of a chef-prepared mid-day meal, I suppose the last choice is a better value than the tasting tour, where the snacks did not look impressive or plentiful. However, when we had a chance to peruse the menu at the end of our tour, we did not think it remarkable enough to fit the asking price. Of course, we had not tasted the wines that would be offered with the meal.
The wines they produce are, as is the operation, of unique and excellent quality. As listed on their website, they are: Tannat Reserva 2015 for $1080 pesos (USD 38), Chardonnay 2015 for $810 (USD29), Cerro Negro Gran Reserva 2013, and Methode Champenoise, both priced at $1350 (USD48). Without a tasting, we were unwilling to buy any of these expensive products. However, other visitors at the winery clearly were partaking of both the tasting tour or the dining tour, and were purchasing bottles of wine following their tours.
The workings of the winery are all sparkling and new. It only opened for the public in this format in December 2016. On the night before our visit, they had a social event with live music at the winery. They are planning on more events in the future.
We were impressed with the incredible cleanliness and on the emphasis to deliver a pure product with the minimum of evasive processes or ingredients. For example, the flow through the system fully utilizes gravity and not pumps, which they told us, traumatize the wine. They are also completely aware of the soils and climate that contribute to their wines.
While we were not purchasers, the visit was well worth our time. We think this valley and this winery are beautiful. We will bring other visitors.
Further information can be found at the website: http://www.vinaeden.com/
Photos by Syd Blackwell