Published November 2019
The Rio das Antas Valley route is the starting point for an enogastronomic tour of Serra Gaúcha. Dividing the cities of Bento Gonçalves and Veranópolis, the Valley is home to some of the best wineries, distilleries, and restaurants in the region – one of them is Salton, which recently opened its grounds to the public. On guided tours, travelers have the opportunity to learn more about their wine and sparkling wine production while enjoying days in the mountains. Next, check out a list with a few reasons why this is an unforgettable experience:
The Rio das Antas Valley circuit is 84 miles [135 km] from Porto Alegre and there’s no lack of beautiful mountains on the way there. Take advantage to cross the Ponte Ernesto Dornelles, which is known as one of the longest arch bridges in the world. At Km 201, you’ll find a privileged view at Mirante da Ferradura [literally, Horseshoe Overlook], named as such thanks to the shape of the river’s curve.
Visiting this place is also an opportunity to learn more about the history of Italian immigration to Brazil, which transformed the country’s culture over the centuries. The hundred-year-old Vinícola Salton, a mandatory stop for anyone in the region, was born when Antonio Domenico Salton left Italy, in 1878, and went to Vila Isabel, currently known as Bento Gonçalves. There, he started to produce wine for his own consumption, a common habit among immigrants that’s still going strong. Family production, on small rural properties, still represents a large part of the country’s wine production.
Enotourism is growing in Brazil. In 2018 alone, around 45,000 people visited Vinícola Salton, the only winery with suspended walkways from where you can observe the wine bottling process. In the underground rooms, also known as cellars, visitors can see the ageing stage of the beverages. Cave da Evolução, for example, is 26 feet [8 m] below the pavement, where the house’s noblest wines are stored.
At the end of the tours, which usually last between two and two a half hours, there are tasting sessions of red, white, and sparkling wines and non-alcoholic beverages, and, in some cases, they are accompanied by cold cuts and cheeses. But the beverages usually vary according to the harvest and availability. During the vintage, or harvest season, you can take a special tour where visitors participate in the process of grape harvesting and stomping. Check out their website to learn more and book the tour in advance.
From Porto Alegre, it’s approximately a 2-hour drive to the city of Bento Gonçalves, one of the starting points for the Rio das Antas Valley route.