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Wineries - Other Activity Tarija - Bolivia

No visit to Tarija is complete without a trip to the world’s highest vineyards in the surrounding valleys. Tarija’s foundations as a wine-growing region began long ago. The first bodega is registered in the early 17th century in Entre Rios. Today there are dozens of commercial and artisan vineyards spread across the department, mainly in the Valle de la Concepcion and nearby areas.

The industry is becoming big business with the production of Bolivian high-altitude wine, which is made from fruits grown at between 1,700 and 2,800 meters (5,577 ft - 9,186 ft), and Sangani, Bolivia’s most traditional drink that's produced in a similar way to Brandy. Winemakers point out that the high altitude here means that the grapes have more flavor and aroma, because of increased sun exposure and more antioxidants.

Many of the bigger producers use French fermentation tanks in the production process and the combined output of the area is now estimated to be between five and six million liters of wine and Singani a year. The wine from the area is already being exported to Europe and continues to grow in popularity.

As the main tourist attraction in the area, many of the bodegas are set up for visitors. Someone can normally show you around and explain the production process to you and some places may include some wine tasting. It’s always best to call ahead in advance to see what’s available.

Some of the wineries can be a little hard to reach without private transport. Hire a taxi or a private car to take you around the region (some tour agencies offer this service).

La Concepción (591-4-66-51514) is arguably the highest quality producer in the area, just past the town of the same name, about 25 kilometers from Tarija. The wineries of the popular brand Aranjuez (591-4-66-42552) are across the river from downtown Tarija. One of the area’s biggest producers, Campos de Solana (591-4-66-48481), is off the main road to La Concepción, so it is accessible by public transport.

If you want to visit an artesanal vineyard where they still produce vino patero by stamping the grapes with bare feet, Casa Vieja (591-4-66-62605) is a few blocks from the main square in La Concepción. They have a good restaurant that serves local delicacies.

If you’d prefer to do a tour of the area, just about every agency in town offers half-day trips around the region, which visit three or so wineries along the way.

Around Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

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20 Oct 2009

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