Tarija isn’t one of the world’s better known wine regions, but it does produce some of the world’s highest altitude wines. Whilst Bolivia can’t stand up to Chile and Argentina (read more here), it does produce some surprisingly drinkable wine at a low price, so we were quite looking-forward to our wine tour of Tarija. Plus it also included cheese and jamon Serrano tasting. What’s not to like about that?
We started off at 9am (!) with Casa Vinícola El Potro. It was small! Everything – the processing tanks, bottling facilities, storage cellar – were in the same building. This was real ’boutique’ production. I wanted to like it, I really did, but the wine just tasted weirdly sour. The olives and crisps we got to eat with it were more my kind of thing.
Next was Campos de Solano, which is my second favourite brand in Bolivia (Aranjuez is the absolute best). It was the most professional and largest of the wineries we visited and wouldn’t have looked out of place on the wine tours we did in Chile or Argentina.
Campos de Solana are the only producers of rosé in Tarija – nice and refreshing in the hot weather!
Bodegas Casa Grande was one of the more interesting vineyards we visited. They’re in the process of building a wine spa and the place actually looked like they worked there rather than it being just for show for tourists.
The white wine we tried was pretty good – it reminded me a little of a pinot grigio. This was also the place we got to sample local ham and cheese. And there was a cute puppy running around. You can’t get much better than that!
We made a brief stop at a showroom for Las Duelas. They make lots of desert wine, marmalade and other organic fruity products.
Finally, we ended the tour at Casa Vieja, the oldest bodega in Tarija. This is the place where you share one glass with the whole group during wine tasting. It’s traditional. It also means the person at the end of the line gets to finish off whatever’s left in the glass.
We were served in such rapid-fire fashion that I lost count of how many types of wine and singani we tried. None of them were very memorable. But Casa Vieja’s charm lies in its colonial buildings, restaurant and beautiful terrace.
We decided to skip the tour bus back to Tarija and stayed here for lunch (delicious but very slow). A shared taxi back to Tarija cost only 5Bs per person.
Wine tours start from 100Bs for a half day. We went with Viva Tours, 150Bs, because we wanted to visit Campos de Solana and specifically avoid Kohlberg (seriously the worst wine in the whole world).