When you think of wine you usually think of regions such as France, Italy and certain parts of Chile and Argentina. Many people have no idea that there is region in Bolivia set at an elevation of about in 6,000 that is home to several large and small family-run bodegas that will provide tradition and taste to the picky wine aficionado. Set in the Valle de la Concepción (Concepcion Valley), there is tranquil blanket of land nestled into the southern canyons of Tarija, Bolivia. Here you can tour the vineyards in a days worth of time, stay in the calm city center, and eat a delicious dish of specialty meats paired with a perfect glass of wine.
Where to stay
Tarija is small. The city center is comprised of a few main plazas including Plaza Luis de Fuentes y Vargas where you will find plenty of paces to eat and find a decent place to stay. Victoria Plaza Hotel is situated on the corner of this main plaza on Calle Sucre. Rooms are cozy and boast high ceilings and chic wood floors. The reception is delightful and most of the day time staff speaks some English. The beds are big and breakfast is tasty, offering fresh squeezed juices and perfectly puffed pastries. You can book a single room for around $300 Bolivianos a night ($45 U.S dollars). If you stay longer, you may be able to work out a deal for less. For Four-Star treatment and super clean rooms, this is by far the best and most comfortable option for your buck!
Where to Eat
Taberna Gattopardo is a seakhouse/pub fusion restaurant that is packed on the weekends and surprisingly active on the weekdays as well. There is good reason, as the portions are generous and the food is probably the tastiest in town. The Cesar Salad shines, using an all-natural zesty anchovy sauce that isn’t too overpowering and will have you licking your fingertips to the very last drop. If anchovies aren’t your style, then order the filet-mignon, glazed delectably in a mushroom sauce. For vegetarians, any of their salads are freshly prepared to order, and oh-so-satisfying. Top it off with a creamy milk-shake to go and your soul and your tummy will be happily satisfied!
What to Do
Well, if it isn’t obvious by now, the vineyards and the wine tours are the thing to do while spending some time in Tarija. Standard tours run at about $150 to $200 Bolivianos a day ($20 to $30 U.S dollars). This type of tour will bring you to the major bodegas in Valle de la Concepción including one of the oldest bodegas, Casa Vieja which has been family-run for over 400 years. You will also visit major players like Campos de Solana and Casa Real. Most tours start early in the morning and consist of about 10 to 15 other people. If you are interested in booking a private tour, check out the information center located also on the main plaza (General Bernardo Trigo) and ask the reception to call around to a few tour companies for a private booking. The cost will run you around $300 Bolivianos for the entire day, including food and water, but will tailor a tour to exactly your liking and may be worth the extra money if intimate wining and dining is your thang!
Have you been to Tarija? How did you like the wine?