We recently returned from our first big trip during our time here in Brazil – to Brazilian Wine Country! One of our big goals for this experience is to see as much of Brazil as we possibly can in the time we have. As such, our trip to the south to Rio Grande do Sol was a bit of a zany choice. When our friends in Bauru asked us about where we were going, they seemed a bit perplexed as to why we were going somewhere “cold” (aka not hot) where there was no beach.
Some did note that the area was rumored to be beautiful (it is), that drinking at wineries sounded fun (it was) and that they have great furniture stores in the region (um, didn’t quite get around to that, but good to know). But for the most part not many seemed to understand our enthusiasm for this particular trip.
But if you know Tom and me at all, you know that wine is kind of our thing and we were determined to give Brazil’s underrated wine region a thorough exploration.
This marks our fourth wine country experience, the first three being Napa, Portugal and Virginia. We love the whole wine tourism experience, from the inevitably beautiful scenery to the diverse tasting experiences and of course – the wine!
And although Brazil is relatively unknown for being a great wine destination, it has a ton to offer wine lovers, and everyone else too. Most of Brazil’s wineries are located in the state of Rio Grande do Sol in the South of Brazil in the Serra Gaucha region and specifically around the city of Bento Goncalves.
One of the main reasons, I imagine, that the area is not more well-known is that it’s relatively hard to reach, especially for those of us who don’t live near a major airport. For Tom and I to make the trip, we drove from Bauru to Guarulhos (about four hours) to catch a quick one hour and forty-five minute flight to Porto Alegre. From there, we rented a car and drove to Bento Goncalves.
While the distance between the two cities isn’t much (about 115 km or 71.5 miles), when we looked up the best way to make the trip we noticed that several websites warned foreigners not to make the drive and to instead take a bus. We didn’t take that advice, because we knew we’d need a car to get around to all the wineries and because we’re not your average foreigners, or so we thought.
And for the most part, the drive really isn’t so bad. However, we left Porto Alegre at rush hour and caught a ton of traffic on the drive out there. It was also dark for the majority of our trip which was a bummer because we couldn’t see all the awesome scenery I’d read about. Due to the traffic, what should have taken an hour and a half took closer to three, but we had a lot of fun Brazilian music on the radio to keep us company so it really wasn’t so bad.
The drive back, on a Monday around noon, was a breeze. So I think it’s all about timing. Bento Goncalves itself, is also a bit of a chore to drive. Tom will attest to this. As a true mountain town, there are some seriously steep roads. It was actually usually flatter out in the wine country than in the city. But being on the road less traveled just made our time in the Serra Gaucha all the more special.
The scenery was as breathtaking as I’ve seen on any wine trip, or anywhere really.
On a drive to one of the wineries, we spotted a waterfall in the distance. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but we were kind of obsessed with it.
The sunsets were another favorite.
Of course, most of our time was spent exploring the wineries, which were each wonderful and unique in their own way. More on that in my next post!