Wine Capital of Brazil, the charming city of Bento Gonçalves has become a center of touristic interest in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. With a wide variety of activities, from enotourism in the Vale dos Vinhedos ( Valley of the Vineyards) to radical sports in the Vale do Rio das Antas (Antas River Valley), the township has become a major choice for those who seek a different destination in the south of Brazil.
Formed mostly by European immigrants, the population of the colonies that originated the townships of the Serra Gaucha (Gaucha Mountain Range) maintain many aspects of their forefathers’ culture. Most of the immigrants who settled in the region were Germans from Hunsruck and Italians from the Veneto region, which accounts for the Italian roots that strongly mark the culture of Bento Gonçalves. Add to this the almost temperate climate of the south of Brazil, and you have a perfect ambiance for the cultivation of grapes and, consequently, the emergence of the many wineries spread throughout the Italian-Brazilian part of the Serra Gaucha.
This wine culture is the township’s main tourist attraction. Enotourism is well established in tours throughout the Vale dos Vinhedos, where the main wineries of the region are found, such as the Casa Valdugo and the Miolo, ones of the most popular. For a really complete experience, a good idea is to stay at one of the wineries: Don Giovanni, Villa Michelon and Casa Valdugo offer accomodations in the midst of the grapevines, with total immersion in the world of wine. You can also enjoy the cheese and salami produced in the region, as well as the galeto (roasted spring chicken), a specialty of the local restaurants.
Besides the enotourism, it is worthwhile taking one of the best and loveliest tours in Bento Gonçalves, the Caminho das Pedras (Path of Stones). The tour, of approximately 7 km, passes through landscapes reminiscent of the north of Italy, with stone and wood buildings that spread out all along the way to the São Pedro colony.
But tourism in the beautiful southern town is not limited to wine and the Italian heritage. The practice of ecotourism and radical sports in the Valley of the Antas River are excellent choices for those who wish to get in touch with nature. Trekking, climbing, rafting and rappelling are some of the activities that can be enjoyed in the Valley, which also has some important wineries, such as the Cravelli Family winery.
A ride on the Maria Fumaça (steam train) to the township of Carlos Barbosa is another great option. Beginning with cheese and wine tasting, the fun trip gets even better with a presentation of singing and dancing by talented folklore groups, in a celebration of the regional Italian culture, making the journey even more enjoyable. Sparkling wines are the highlight of the destination, Carlos Barbosa, and really worth drinking.
Enotourism, beautiful landscapes, radical sports, and many other leisure pursuits make Bento Gonçalves a very attractive destination for those who visit the south of Brazil. A little piece of Italy in Brazil.