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On my travels before Christmas I visited wine-growing regions of Argentina and Bolivia.
While Argentina’s wine industry is already well-established with much-loved bottles sold worldwide, Bolivia producers are yet to garner much attention.
My visit showed me that this was not for want of quality, with a small but growing number of fine wines. My favourites were: Riesling of Campos de Solana, Tannat of Bodegas Aranguez and the 1750 Torrontes 170 of Bodega Uvairenda.
Despite the quality, these wines are made in small volume and can even be hard to fine in Bolivia itself.
While visiting La Paz, I came across a little of a new bar that serves all the best Bolivian wine and also offers gourmet tapas made of local produce. I liked it so much, that I asked the owners to write something for our blog….
Introducing Hallwright’s - the highest wine bar in the world
We are a couple from Australia who have been working in Bolivia for four years on and off and have been living in La Paz permanently for a year. We moved here for NGO-related work and have stayed because of the wonder...
We both love food and wine and spent many nights exploring what the city’s restaurant and bar scenes have to offer. While there is a growing gastronomy scene in La Paz with new restaurants springing up across the city, there still lacks a more sophisticated bar culture. There are many cervezerias and coffee shops which serve alcohol but there are few places you can enjoy a glass of quality wine, snack on gourmet produce and relax in a stylish ambience. Bolivia produces award-winning wines and has ingredients and local produce recognised and celebrated by renowned international chefs. So we decided to open our wine bar to cater for a growing demand for Bolivian local produce, including cheeses and cured meats as well as to promote the best of Bolivia’s red and white wines and spirits.
Bolivian wine production is concentrated around the southern town of Tarija, which sits at an altitude of 1,854 metres above sea level and many of the surrounding vineyards are higher. The altitude translates into fresh and interesting wines, such as the Tannats or the Torrontés (both specialities of South America). The main wine growing areas are slightly higher than the vineyards of Mendoza in Argentina but remain excellent grounds for both Cabernet and Malbec to flourish. While there are a few well known and established large wineries in Bolivia there has also been, over the past few years, the opening of more boutique and specialised wineries and the spread of wineries to areas traditionally not associated with wine production.
Artisan cheese and ham are also growing in demand, with many local producers using traditional craftsmanship and recipes to produce unique and gourmet products. Some take their cue from Western Europe, developing complex flavours in their Parmesans, Bries, Camemberts and hard cheeses. Goat’s cheese is also becoming more popular as an alternative to milk based products. Tarija has a burgeoning cured meats industry thanks to the legacy of Franciscan missionaries who produced beautiful jamon serranos. Sajama, further north on the border with Chile, specialises in cured meats and salamis made from llama.
Our wine bar seeks out the exciting and varied food and wine innovations from around Bolivia and aims to showcase and make accessible such quality wine, cheese, cured meats and dips. While the wine and the food are the centerpiece, we also recognise the importance of creating a stylish ambience, a place to relax, listen to vinyl records and live music, meet and make new friends.
We’re located in the heart of La Paz’s bar and restaurant neighbourhood and are easily accessible from the city’s hotels and by public transport. We have friendly, knowledgeable staff and will give you an experience filled with memorable food and drink from one of Latin America’s least well-known countries. We look forward to welcoming you soon to the highest wine bar in the world.
Joshua Hallwright and Kathryn Robb
#2235 Av Sanchez Lima, Sopocachi
+591 6803 1510