Wine tasting in Tarija, Bolivia’s Andalusia

13 October 2023


Surprisingly less popular than their Chilean and Argentinian neighbours, Bolivian wines nevertheless deserve to be known and recognised, and for good reason: these delicious beverages are produced in the highest vineyards in the world. The Tajira vineyards are located at altitudes of up to 2,400 metres, in a warm Mediterranean region that will remind you of Andalusia.

So when you’re here, make the most of the city and its countryside to quench your thirst for knowledge about Bolivia. This warm setting will be the perfect place to enjoy the surprising flavours of Sauvignons… and whether they’re tintos, rosados or blancos, there’s sure to be a bottle that will catch your eye!

In October, Thaki Voyage will delight you with some incredible wine tastings, so follow the guide!

Understanding the past to shed light on the present

Founded by Don Luis de Fuentes y Vargas on 4 July 1574, the small town of Tarija bears a strong resemblance to Andalusia, as its founder was born in Seville. So it’s only natural that the river that flows through it should be named Guadalquivir, in homage to the largest river in southern Spain.

Like Seville, Tarija is located in the south of the country, in an area with a Mediterranean character. Its local culture is rooted in its Spanish and colonial heritage, but also in the identity of Argentina, its closest neighbour, which has attempted to annex it on several occasions over the course of history. However, it was Bolivian territory that the city decided to join in 1825, 15 years after proclaiming its independence.

There’s no doubt that you’re in Bolivia when you visit Tarija, and even though this agricultural region is all too often regarded as a mere stopover during a holiday, Thaki Voyage shows you that the town is well worth a visit.

With its interesting architecture punctuated by colonial buildings, the city centre is a little treasure in itself. Start your stroll at Casa Dorada, which is sure to catch your eye. Built in 1930 by wealthy owners, it now houses the city’s museum and cultural centre.

Then head off to visit the many religious buildings, including the Basilica de San Francisco, built in 1606 and listed as a historic monument, and the Cathedral, which guards the remains of the city’s founder.

The Iglesia San Juan offers a magnificent view of the whole of Tarija, and the Iglesia del San Roque, which we’ll be talking about in our next article in October, is also a must-see treasure. This all-white church was built in honour of Tarija’s saint, and the Fiesta del San Roque is dedicated to him. You’ll see that the town is also renowned for its festive atmosphere!

A surprising city at the heart of a stunning region

While it’s good to visit a city’s main sites to discover it, it’s also necessary to take time to feel its atmosphere and its gentle way of life.

Tarija enjoys a mild climate, and it’s easy to explore the city centre on foot. Take a stroll through the narrow, peaceful streets and then sit down to a meal in one of the lively restaurants. By the palm trees, the atmosphere is both relaxed and sophisticated!

You can also visit the small markets to enjoy a glass of local wine accompanied by picados, the traditional appetisers, at which point you will begin to feel all the flavours of Bolivia explode in your mouth. Don’t forget that the tarijeños, the inhabitants of Tarija, and Thaki Voyage will be on hand to help you discover the region!

You’ll also be able to enjoy Bolivian wines, which are unfortunately not widely exported to the international market but are nonetheless well sold within the country. Once back in France, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate their tastes once again by packing a nice bottle in your suitcase to keep close to you all the authentic flavours of this highlands region, full of trails, hikes and waterfalls.

In fact, Tarija is the starting point for some superb excursions, particularly to the many villages and nature reserves that make up the region, or to the vineyards of El Valle de la Concepción. It would be a shame not to take part in a wine tasting!

El Valle de la Concepción, time for a tasting!

Not to be missed during your visit to Bolivia is a tasting of some of the world’s finest vintages. Head for El Valle de la Concepción and its charming village with its colonial architecture, right in the heart of this region considered to be the centre of Bolivia’s wine production.

A tour from Tarija will introduce you to the Ruta del Vino (Wine Route) and the valley’s various cellars, where some of the world’s sweetest nectars are produced. But why do they have such a distinctive flavour? Their altitude and position south of the equator explain it: the grapes ripen quickly.

What’s more, if you take an interest in the region’s wine-growing history, you’ll learn that the wines were brought here by missionaries in the 17th century and that these grape varieties come from Muscat of Alexandria or California.

During your visit, you’ll go from bodega to bodega, where you’ll get a glimpse of a production unit before beginning a traditional tasting accompanied by cheese, ham and olives. Wine lovers, this is the perfect time to indulge.

And don’t forget the Fiesta de la Uva, or Grape Festival, which takes place over 3 days in March to coincide with the grape harvest.

Thaki Voyage invites you to take a closer look at its programmes and tours and imagine yourself in the idyllic setting of Tarija and its wine region. Oenology in Bolivia is a unique experience that we dream of sharing with you! Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information, we’ll be delighted to help.

Mathilde Leroux.