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The most spectacular winery restaurants in South America

Dramatic mountains, vast valleys and row upon row of grapevines provide the backdrop at these restaurants based at top wine estates across South America – but what’s on the plate is just as memorable

Words by Amanda Barnes, Alistair Cooper MW, Fernanda Fonseca, Richard House, Rosa Moraes, Sorrel Moseley-Williams

The Collection
Restaurante Arenito sits in Vinícola Uvva wine estate in Bahia, Brazil

Looking to dine among the vines? South America is hard to beat in terms of dramatic settings. From Brazil to the southernmost tip of Chile, South America’s vineyards are growing in international acclaim – and with that comes an elevated offering to visitors. Many estates now welcome wine travellers to rest, relax, and pair the best of the cellar with fine dining menus that also introduce local and regional cooking traditions.

Chef Francis Mallmann (guest editor of the summer issue of our magazine) was a pioneer, in this respect, when he opened Argentina’s first winery restaurant at Escorihuela Gascón back in 1995. Since then, the winery fine-dining trend has sprawled across the continent and visitors to some of Latin America’s most celebrated wine estates can expect standout service, impeccable produce and culinary creativity on the same level as the work going on in the winery. Read on to discover ten unmissable South American winery restaurants.

Ten top winery restaurants in South America

Guests can feast in the company of Chapada Diamantina National Park and its rugged terrain

Restaurante Arenito

Vinícola Uvva, Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Known for the exuberance of its natural landscape  – think rocky walls carved by winds and rivers, complemented by the vegetation typical of a semi-arid climate, such as cacti and pepper trees – Chapada Diamantina, in the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil, has become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Against this stunning backdrop, Vinícola Uvva produces wines including Syrah and Chardonnay, the grapes planted on sandy clay soil at 1,150m above sea level. In addition to the excellent wines and spectacular landscape, Uvva is also home to Restaurante Arenito. Run by chef André Chequer, the restaurant takes its name from the Portuguese word for sandstone. Chequer has experience cooking in several countries around the world, and his signature style blends contemporary and global dishes and techniques with extensive use of local ingredients, including tapioca, clarified butter, rice, red beans and the estate’s own cheese. Among the most intriguing dishes is the antipasto Sincorá, named after the mountain surrounding the winery. Its combination of fried tomatoes, peppers and cheese mousse covered with sugarcane molasses and accompanied by tapioca crostini is to die for. Seafood lovers can opt for a frittata of prawn, octopus and crispy breaded mussels, finished with tare – a thick soy-based sauce originally from Japan – and aioli. For dessert, the brilliant coffee panna cotta is a regional take on the classic Italian sweet, using coffee grown on the property, served alongside a Bahian chocolate pie with a cashew-nut tuile. To the delight of customers, the kitchen is integrated into the lounge, decorated with furniture by celebrated Brazilian designers like Sergio Rodrigues, Carlos Motta, Arthur Casas and Jader Almeida, and the restaurant boasts a stunning view of the vineyards and the imposing rocky mountains beyond. Fernanda Fonseca vinicolauvva.com.br

At Vik Zero everything revolves around the seasons

Vik Zero

Vik, Cachapoal Valley, Chile

Set in a beautiful nature spot in the Cachapoal Valley at the foot of the Andes, with its grounds spanning 4,300ha, Vik is a true paradise – so it’s no surprise that it took fourth place in the World’s Best Vineyards awards in 2022. While the vineyard’s wines are stellar, with its flagship Bordeaux-style blend a particular highlight, the greatest delights can be found at one of three impeccable restaurants. At Pavilion, in Vik’s modern warehouse, renowned chef Pablo Cáceres showcases his signature garden-to-table cuisine, with ingredients sourced from the property’s organic kitchen garden or via local producers. Second, at the hotel, Milla Milla boasts tasting menus with a view of the valley. And then there’s the newly opened Vik Zero, which is located in the garden itself, where more than 200 varieties of fruit, vegetables, edible flowers and herbs are grown, and where Collonca hens roam, originally bred by the Mapuche people and known for their distinctive blue eggs. Guests will have to work for their supper, harvesting produce before they dine. But thankfully, it can be done while enjoying a glass of wine or a cocktail made from the garden’s ingredients. At Vik Zero everything revolves around the seasons. In spring you’ll find edible flowers, aromatic herbs, peas, quinoa and asparagus. Summer means a huge variety of fruit, corn and artichokes; and in the winter, expect to see oranges, lemons, cauliflower and kale. One surprising dish from Cáceres and his team is made exclusively from garden ingredients: the lechuga marinada consists of marinated lettuce grilled and served with potato foam, a poached egg and fried quinoa. The garden also aims to recover varieties of endemic plant species that are now under threat. That is what makes this winery an incomparable destination. Not only does it possess natural beauty, architectural luxury and fine wines, but there’s also a purpose behind it all: demonstrating a perfect balance between what the land can offer us and what we can give back to it. Rosa Moraes vikwine.com

Generales found its feet in the midst of the pandemic, but it is certain to remain standing strong far beyond it

Ramos Generales

Kaiken, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

Opening a winery restaurant during the pandemic might not sound like the best idea, but in the case of Ramos Generales, its surprise soft launch turned out to be rather serendipitous. Locked down in Mendoza during the early months of Covid, Francis Mallmann initially launched Kaiken solely to locals. For the first few months, the maestro himself was on hand to attend the grill. With the tables all alfresco, spaced around the garden and under large, old pergola vines, it was the perfect place for Mendoza residents to enjoy a meal while the world was closed down. By the time Argentina reopened to international visitors, Generales had already managed to build its reputation as one of the hottest tickets in town. It continues to garner international praise, and the chequerboard dining terrace is fully booked almost every night. Mallmann’s famous fire-cooking cuisine is one of the main attractions, with dishes including his griddled gnocchi and chimichurri-drizzled steak trending on Mendoza’s culinary Instagram accounts each evening. But the location is also a huge part of the restaurant’s charm. The historic winery and old vines of Kaiken’s Vistalba estate offer an idyllic backdrop, while the sunset behind the Andes casts a thousand colours into the night sky. This is also one of the few winery restaurants in Mendoza to open for dinner (albeit only in summertime), which helps create a romantic vibe, with candlelight followed by moonlight. Wines are constantly topped up by an attentive crew of sommeliers, and almost all of Kaiken’s wines are available by the glass, as well as by the bottle. Generales may have found its feet in the midst of the pandemic, but it is certain to remain standing strong far beyond it. Amanda Barnes kaikenwines.com

Every ingredient – olive oil, vegetables and salad greens, fish, meat and wine – is sourced from Argentina’s best-known wine region

Angélica – Cocina Maestra

Catena Zapata, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

Looking east from the outdoor dining room, a stone archway frames Malbec vineyards; and the winery building, inspired by Mayan pyramids, tells a story of winemaking that spans more than 100 years. To the west, snow-capped mountains dominate the Mendoza landscape, the Tupungato volcano’s flat top standing out against the jagged skyline. These are the vistas that await diners at Angélica – Cocina Maestra, which opened in February, the first restaurant from one of Argentina’s most iconic bodegas, Catena Zapata. The Catena family is extremely proud of its roots, and fourth-generation vintner Laura Catena, the driving force behind the winery, wanted to pay tribute to her grandmother Angélica, the family matriarch. However, the protagonist at Angélica – Cocina Maestra is the wine. With an allstar cast of legendary vintages, it simply couldn’t be any other way. Laura, together with head winemaker Alejandro Vigil and her father Nicolás, takes inspiration from family recipes to create dishes that either accompany the wines or shake them up. In the ten-course tasting menu, for example, DV Catena Chardonnay is paired with veal sweetbreads. Local herbs work their magic to heighten the wine’s natural citrus and herbaceous notes, a fascinating and welcome demonstration of the region’s potential beyond Malbec. Every last ingredient  – olive oil, vegetables and salad greens, fish and meat and, of course, wine – is sourced from Argentina’s best-known wine region. This is the winery’s first foray into hospitality, beyond guided tastings at the pyramid, and architect Ricardo Zumel was tasked with building an Italian-style villa, complete with watchtower, to help bring the project to life. Intricate stone masonry, recycled oak casks and wooden beams complete this impressive property – and before sitting down to dine, you might even like to take an appetite-whetting tour of the underground distillery, where Vigil is now also crafting grappa and vermouth for the estate. Sorrel Moseley-Williams angelica.meitre.com.ar

Although it was restored in 1990, you’ll find 19th century artefacts scattered throughout the restaurant

Restaurante Doña Paula

Santa Rita, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

For a traditional Chilean dining experience, look no further than Doña Paula, a wonderful restaurant on the Santa Rita estate, one of Chile’s classic wineries. Around 45 minutes south of central Santiago by car, nestled in the foothills of the Andes in Alto Jahuel, the estate and 40 hectares of park were founded in the late 19th century. The beautiful Gothic chapel should not be missed; nor should you skip a walk around the superbly managed and curated parks, which feature hedgerow mazes, fountains, follies and ornaments. The restaurant itself is in a Colonialstyle building, one that’s been named a national monument in honour of Doña Paula Jaraquemada, who famously housed 120 patriots during the War of Independence and after whom this restaurant is named. Although the building was restored in 1990, you’ll find 19thcentury artefacts scattered throughout the restaurant, playing on this strong sense of history. The food is typical Chilean fare, with a few international dishes on offer as well. Start with a seafood platter of cold raw scallops, prawns and tuna tartare with a spiced mayonnaise – it’s simple, fresh and pleasingly plentiful. But meat is king here, and a main of ossobuco with Merlot sauce, Chilean-style pork ribs or slow-cooked flank steak pairs nicely with a local red wine. Lomo vetado (ribeye), simply grilled and served with vegetables, is a particular standout, the steak juicy and tender. To finish, a flan, arroz con leche (rice pudding) or crème brûlée will top off a thoroughly satisfying feast. Wines hail from Santa Rita itself, as well as from sister estate Carmen in the Colchagua Valley and their aptly named Doña Paula winery in Mendoza. The standout is the superb old-vine Florillón from Carmen, a lively, golden yellow flor-aged Semillon that’s worth the journey alone. Alistair Cooper MW santarita.com

The restaurant in the heart of Apalta celebrates the great diversity of flavours and climates to be found in Chile as a whole

Fuegos de Apalta

Viña Montes, Apalta, Chile

Montes has a privileged position right in the heart of Colchagua, at the foot of the lush green expanse of the vineand forest-carpeted hills of Apalta. It is here that Aurelio Montes invited Francis Mallmann to open his first and only restaurant in Chile, and it is nestled between the Carmenère and Syrah vines, in a glass-lined cylindrical structure that expands outwards on wooden platforms. Simply dressed wooden tables with fruit and flowers as centrepieces offer a flash of colour amid the landscape of green vines and hanging golden spotlights. At the core of the restaurant, connecting all the seating platforms, is the kitchen, which is entirely open-plan. The chefs work around a large chamber of firepits – and as the name suggests, everything at Fuegos de Apalta is cooked by fire. Local seasonal ingredients are all on offer, and Colchagua’s breadth of landscapes – spanning from the Pacific Coast to the Andes Mountains  – is celebrated in the diverse menu of seafood, meat and vegetable dishes. Highlights include slow-braised Patagonian lamb with a Carmenère sauce, flame-grilled Pacific cuttlefish and salt-crusted pears. Although the wine list is composed entirely of Montes’s wines, the portfolio is impressively diverse, with vineyards spanning Chile’s wine regions, and it ranges from zesty coastal wines in Aconcagua in the north, down to the savoury old-vine wines of Itata in the south, with the rich and silky Colchagua wines in the middle. The restaurant might be in the heart of Apalta, but it really does celebrate – through its wines and dishes – the great diversity of flavours and climates to be found in Chile as a whole. Amanda Barnes fuegosdeapalta.com

A wealth of biodiversity is all part of what makes the wines of the Bouza family’s coastal estate so special

Restaurante Las Espinas

Bodega Bouza, Maldonado, Uruguay

The Bouza family are true visionaries. They pioneered fine wines in Uruguay, were the first to plant Albariño there and opened Uruguay’s first fine-dining winery restaurant. Their handsome vineyard just outside Montevideo has long been one of the most popular stops on the well-trodden wine route of the Canelones region. Earlier this year, however, they opened an entirely new concept restaurant, right on the top of the Cerro de las Espinas hill. Its panoramic view spans from the Atlantic Ocean in one direction to the hills and fields of Maldonado in the other. Getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself. The winding dirt road climbs through the unspoiled estate weaving between native flora, enormous granite boulders and gravity-defying vineyards planted on steep slopes. It’s not just the view and wines that make this journey worth it. The farmto-table ethos makes for exceptionally fresh flavours. The family rear their own cattle (Elisa Bouza is renowned for her Angus beef and Hampshire Down lamb), produce their own goat’s cheese, and cultivate heirloom vegetables and fruit, all of which feature on the seasonal menu. One star ingredient does come from further afield: the octopus in their famous pulpo a la gallega is sourced directly from fishermen in their grandparents’ home town in Galicia. This grilled octopus dish, like everything at the restaurant, is simply prepared and delivered to perfection, allowing the authenticity and purity of the ingredients to stand out. Service is elegantly pared back yet intimate, and there’s an option to dine in the rustic-chic interior or outside on balconies that offer up extraordinary panoramic views. Choose the latter if you can, and you will also be immersed in birdsong and the delightful aromas of the wildflowers and native shrubbery. The experience of this wealth of biodiversity is all part of grasping exactly what makes the wines of the Bouza family’s coastal estate so special – wild but refined. Amanda Barnes bodegabouza.com

Chalky soils of the Tunuyán river create a dizzying geological patchwork leading to mineral-rich wines

Piedra Infinita

Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Regularly named the New World’s winery of the year, and producer of wines with perfect scores from both Robert Parker and Tim Atkin MW, Zuccardi strives for liquid gold in the foothills of the majestic Andes. Since 1963, when Sebastián Zuccardi’s grandfather Alberto began planting vines in Maipú, this winemaking family has been on a quest to translate the unique characteristics of Paraje Altamira’s terroir through varietal estate wines, primarily Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The alluvial chalky soils of the Tunuyán river, set in an arid landscape 1,100m above sea level, create a dizzying geological patchwork leading to mineral-rich wines such as the 2018 Zuccardi Finca Piedra Infinita Malbec. Chalk and stone are also the materials used for the winery, a post-modernist architectural work of art completed in 2016, with a cellar built around a huge totemic natural stone. Yet wine lovers shouldn’t overlook the estate’s restaurant, The 50-cover spot at the hyper-modern winery is an experience in itself: floor-toceiling windows offer wraparound views of the vineyard and the Andes beyond – snowcapped in winter, when a roaring fire warms the room. In summer, guests start with a glass of blanc de blancs on the shady terrace outside. The five-course tasting menu begins with a creamy, intensely flavoured gazpacho, followed by a delicate dish of rabbit with smoked aubergine, then ovenbaked tortitas Mendocitas, or mini pasties. The main asado, the Argentine chuletón a la brasa, is a grilled ribeye with roast peppers and the most fabulous roast potatoes  – all topped with a gigantic Tomahawk bone – and this is followed by a flan with a fresh and zesty citrus topping. And of course, the estate’s own excellent Chardonnay and Malbec wines are on standby to help wash things down. Richard House zuccardiwines.com

This winery’s stone-clad modern architecture overlooks a ‘wine resort’ village and 20 adobe-style houses in the vineyards

Patio 360

Piattelli Vineyards, Cafayate, Argentina

Cafayate, in the province of Salta, is reached through the cactus-dotted desert landscape and Grand Canyonlike mountainous terrain enclosing the Calchaquí Valley, and it has a reputation among wine aficionados as Mendoza’s more rustic and challenging northern cousin. Now Piattelli Vineyards is out to change all that. The sheer ambition shown in this winery’s stone-clad modern architecture – overlooking a broad valley, with a bespoke ‘wine resort’ village and 20 adobe-style houses built in the surrounding highaltitude vineyards and dubbed ‘casitas in the clouds’ – rivals the glossier Mendoza establishments. Diners may opt to eat on the terrace, with a sweeping vista across the fountains and landscaped grounds towards the valley, or inside, in an airy, high-ceilinged room that also boasts excellent views. After a day tasting their wine, the restaurant’s legendary beef asado is just what you need. The four-course seasonal asado menu comes with a glass of Torrontés (a uniquely intense, fruity-yet-dry white, with bursts of lime, orange blossom and apricot) and a bottle of estate Malbec. Dishes may include beef and chicken empanadas; a salad of beetroot, goat’s cheese and green leaves; and the main event  – a gigantic platter of perfectly barbecued beef, chicken and sausage, including locally made morcilla. Finding room for a dessert of crème caramel may be a (worthwhile) struggle. Owned by US-based entrepreneur Jon Malinski, since 2015 Piattelli Vineyards has emerged as one of Argentina’s top wine exporters. It has a stable of renowned signature vintages of Malbec, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s the Torrontés that is synonymous with Piattelli and Cafayate, where the stony desert terroir, intense sun and startling daily temperature variations combine to provide a characterful white wine that’s not to be missed alongside a meal here. Richard House piattellivineyards.com

Dishes are innovative and modern but nevertheless retain a welcome nod to local recipes

Osadía de Crear

Susana Balbo Wines, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

A worthy detour for Mendoza’s foodie visitors, Osadía de Crear is housed in the brilliant Susana Balbo winery. Just 30 minutes south of the city, in the village of Agrelo – where some of Mendoza’s best wines are made – the restaurant was opened in 2013 by Ana Lovaglio, Susana Balbo’s daughter. The winery is tucked away from the main road, ensuring a tranquil and peaceful escape to the country. From the outside, the building looks like a Swiss chalet, and the grounds are beautifully maintained, featuring a small lake and outdoor seating scattered throughout, where you can enjoy a glass of wine right by the vines. Talented chef Flavia Amad Di Leo takes the helm in the kitchen. Di Leo has worked under some of the finest names in global gastronomy, including Daniel Boulud and Anthony Bourdain, and her food pairs expertly with wines from the estate. Dishes are beautifully presented, colourful, innovative and modern, but they nevertheless retain a welcome nod to local recipes and culinary traditions. The autumn menu featured a delightful amuse-bouche of surprisingly refreshing smoked pumpkin soup served alongside canapés of pea doughnuts and churros, with a bread basket and superb whipped fermented butter. A starter of pork belly, pak choi, cocoa nibs and sriracha foam was perfectly balanced and textured, the rich meat tempered by the fresh, crispy pak choi. Confit sole with al dente carnaroli rice, persimmon, cauliflower purée and smoked cheese was elegant and fresh. For dessert, a stunning pecan and cashew tart with a thyme and lemon ice cream demonstrated the impressive cooking on show. Alistair Cooper MW susanabalbowines.com.ar