This tiny country of 3.4 million inhabitants is dwarfed by its larger neighbors Brazil and Argentina but enjoys a growing reputation as a producer of superlative wines for a reasonable price.Around 8,200 hectares of vineyards have been cultivated by some 1,800 wine producers.The hardy Tannat grape, originally from south-eastern France, was introduced to Uruguay in 1870 by the Basque Frenchman Pascual Harriague, an immigrant who was looking for a varietal that would thrive in Uruguay's soil and climate.Since the 1990s, Uruguay has been exporting high-quality wine throughout Latin America, the United States and even in the countries of the Gulf.The action, so far, centres on the restoration of the Hotel Cervantes, once frequented by Jorge Luis Borges, and the Sala Verdi, a belle époque theatre.But watch out for new art spaces, scheduled to open soon.In 2008, it sold 13.4 million litres valued at .6 million.
According to INAVI Uruguay exported 1.2 litres of wine in 2004, with a value of .3 million (£2.2 million).
But even the most avid oenophiles agree that Uruguay's wine industry will rise and fall on the quality of each individual bottle of ruby red Tannat.
And they say downing a glass is as much of an art form as producing one.
Montevideo is one of South America's hidden glories, too often overlooked in favour of nearby Buenos Aires.
Yet the compact, laid-back capital of Uruguay makes for a great weekend stopover while on the continent.