Rio Grande do Sul: Brazil’s Wine Country


I won’t try and be delicate about it. Brazil wine is mostly crap. So when we planned a trip to the south of Brazil to check out the wine country, my emotions were mixed.

We had spent our fair share of time touring Napa (California) and outlying regions. We had even hit some of the NY/NJ “wineries” while in the east. So we had some points of reference. But I must say we were impressed with Brazil’s wine country.

We flew into Porto Alegre and drove a little over two hours on the “Romantic Trail” to Bento Gonçalves. I get why it’s named as such, the route was gorgeous.

Just a note here on the landscape of Brazil. Thanks to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil seems to be best known for its beaches. And with good reason, the most beautiful ones I’ve seen are in the state of Rio (see Buzios). But get away from the coast and you’ll see some breathtaking scenery along the country mountain drives. Even the drive between Sao Paulo and Rio, which we’ve taken many a time, is beautiful.

The wine country is just as wonderful and in my opinion, rivals Napa. We only had time to do some tasting at a couple wineries. The nice thing about this less “popular” region is you won’t get the tourist crowds and you can taste all you’d like for free. (Last time we were in Napa, many of the wineries were charging for tastings.)

The first winery we went to was Casa Valduga. It’s one of the bigger wineries and has a restaurant and pousada on the premises.

It was nice, although a bit more touristy than most in the region. They have a large tasting room with plenty of staff, but we felt they weren’t as knowledgable as they should have been. However, it’s definitely worth the stop.

The second winery on our route was Pizzato, a smaller, family owned and operated vineyard.

They had a small tasting room overlooking their beautiful vineyard. One of the daughters executed our tasting and she was super lovely and spent loads of time with us (and of course, in turn, we bought loads of wine).  Highly recommend making a stop here.

We tasted some pretty good, powerful reds. There were some good rosé wines, especially rosé bruts. The whites are very different from other regions, especially California. You won’t catch a buttery Chardonnay in the Rio Grande. The ones we tasted were very light, had a mineral taste and in some you could really taste the alcohol. But these are perfect for an afternoon picnic or with a spicy Asian meal.

Our most pleasant surprise was the pousada where we stayed. Don Giovanni wasn’t our first choice. We had actually contacted a few pousada within Bento and were told they were full, so we started to get a bit panicky as we had already bought our plane tickets. So when Don Giovanni returned with the message that they had a room for us, we didn’t expect much.

The seven room inn sits on their winery. The pictures don’t do it justice. The evening we arrived we had some wine and cheese in the garden while Sophia played.

That night, the innkeeper served a fabulous meal complete with wine pairing in part of their cellar.

The next day we explore the vineyard, which included peach and kiwi trees and a small farm.

We did some tasting in their tasting room and then got a tour of the winery. It was the perfect winery experience.

On the way back to Porto Alegre we stopped in Gramado for a not-that-great fondue lunch at the more-expensive-and-fancy-than-we-thought-it-was-going-to-be Belle du Valais. Allegedly the best fondue in the city, we weren’t so impressed. My advice would be to stop at one of the many fondue shops along the main strip. You are bound to get something equal or better at a more reasonable price.

After lunch, we went to Aldeia do Papai Noel, the south of Brazil version of Santa’s Village.

A quaint little “amusement park” founded by some Germans in the ’40’s, it certainly wasn’t like the Santa’s Village I grew up with outside Chicago. But it was cute with animals and a little train that rode around the park.

In one section, they had a little winter village. Someone thought it was a fabulous idea to replicate snowfall by spraying some kind of foam substance from the trees onto the people below.

Ack. I kept our daughter far away from that mess, but the rest of the crowd LOVED it. Thought it was the next best thing to pao de queijo. Ugh.

Santa was there and they even had reindeer! (Not a happy one.)

And of course, you can’t have an amusement park in Brazil without Catholic representation – hence this little chapel and a great, big life-sized nativity scene.

(Makes me realize how removed our Christmas in the U.S. often is from its religious origins. Pretty sure you won’t find evidence of the baby Jesus in the Dundee, IL version of the park.)

The next day we spent some time in Porto Alegre before flying back home. I definitely want to spend more time in this city, it was really pretty and I’m sure had more to explore than we had time for.

Overall, a trip I would highly recommend.

About bornagainbrazilian

Having relocated from New York City to Sao Paulo, Brazil, I'm an expat attempting to broaden my horizons and adjust some of my American ways to be "born again" a Brazilian.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Brazilliant, Crazy Adventures, Expatriate Info & Advice, Foreigner Insights, Tourist Info, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Rio Grande do Sul: Brazil’s Wine Country

  1. Brasilicana says:

    So much green and sunshine – how lovely! One of these days I’ll make it down to the south of Brazil…

  2. It is beautiful there…it looks very European.

  3. Alex says:

    Looks Gorgeous! It reminds me a lot of the mountains around Florence, very beautiful. One day I’ll get down there as I have long lost family in both Parana and Rio Grande do Sul!

    Thanks for the pictures!!

    Abracos,
    Alex

  4. Pingback: I’m the Big Fat, Dumb American | born again brazilian

  5. Pingback: You Know You Are In a Catholic Country When… | born again brazilian

  6. Pingback: Brazilian Challenge Day 182: Miolo | born again brazilian

  7. JD says:

    Hi there! Great site! I am actually planning on doing a fairly similar trip from Porto Alegre into the surrounding wine country this coming summer. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Portuguese, and so I was wondering if this would be an issue or if the the people in some of the smaller towns around PA and, in particular, at the various wineries and hotels have a decent level of English.

    • Thanks!! You might run into a bit of language trouble in this areas. You will find some who speak some basic English maybe even a few that are kind of fluent. But bring a Portuguese dictionary with you and you will be fine. Brazilians are very patient with those who attempt to speak their language.

  8. Mexican-American-Mineira says:

    Thank you, this is very helpful. I am trying to plan a nice, relaxing couple of days in wine country but didn’t know where to start looking.

  9. Pingback: The Creepy Side of Campos do Jordão | born again brazilian

  10. tamara hinson says:

    Hi,

    Sorry to bother you but I’m a freelance journalist and I’m planning on a visit to this area, but please could I ask if I could email you with a few questions about the wine region you visited?

    My email is tamarachinson@googlemail.com and my website is tamarahinson.co.uk.

    Thank you,

    Regards

    Tamara

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s