In 1724, the Barra de San Juan represented the main port used to deliver supplies to Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, founder of the city of Montevideo.
Members of the Order of the Company of Jesus later settled in the San Juan region. With their characteristic dedication and work ethic, they developed a wide range of agricultural and manufacturing activities (carpentry, blacksmithing, manufacture of dairy products, etc.), and also produced the first wines in the Banda Oriental region using traditional methods.

Around 1854, the Lahusen family, whose origins were in Germany and who had a long history of wine-making, purchased four different property sections situated between the San Juan river and the River Plate and created the company Compañía Rural Los Cerros de San Juan y Cochicó.

They selected the area on the basis of their considerable experience which enabled them to recognise the similarities between the gravel and pebble-covered San Juan riverbed and parts of the Bordeaux region. Here they planted vine stocks which they had brought with them from Europe.

Having chosen a suitable location, they began an enthusiastic and determined journey in search of excellence, marking an early point in the history of Uruguay. They were helped by the knowledge and experience of German, Italian, French and Irish families who arrived in the area one after the other and who set up forestry operations, vineyards, wine merchant's, stud farms and agricultural, mining and sand extraction operations.

In 1872 barrels arrived from Nancy, France. They were housed in a new wine cellar or bodega built of stone. Today a considerable amount of the wine produced by Los Cerros de San Juan is still aged in this bodega.

Sixty years later, Los Cerros de San Juan became leaders in the domestic market. Their wines were the only ones from the area to be served alongside imported wines in the top Restaurants of the time.

The launching of the San Juan's Fiesta wine in 1975 represents a landmark in the history of Uruguayan wines. It immediately received extremely high acclaim and is still one of the most popular wines in Uruguay today.

During more than a century of constant effort, striving to produce top quality products, the character and style of each variety produced by this winery were established, representing the fruit of a combination of man's labour and nature's forces.

Brothers Alvaro and Alfredo Terra Oyenard, whose Basque ancestors had had a long history of wine-making, took over the company in 1988 after having had close ties with it for over thirty years.

From the outset they implemented modern policies, strengthening the company's position as a leader in the domestic market, which it had occupied for many decades.
As part of their new vinicultural policy, they updated the vineyard (60 more hectares developed, new equipment, oak barrels, etc.).

These new developments began to bear fruit in 1994, the 140th anniversary of the company and they decided to take part in the most prestigious international wine competitions (sponsored by the O.I.V.) with the aim of evaluating the quality of their wines in an international context.

The prizes they obtained were numerous and impressive (gold and silver medals, special distinctions, etc.) and are evidence of the long way the winery had come in its search for excellence.
Los Cerros de San Juan now exports the same wines it sells in Uruguay, under its own label, targeting a select market in a number of countries which values the effort and love which has gone into the creation of its quality products (Germany, England, USA, Brazil, Austria, Swiss, etc.).

Cooling System - 1860

According to the orally transmitted accounts, the German founders dug a chamber under the wine cellar, that was filled during the winter with cold rainwater. In vintage epochs, the young wine circulated through bronze pipe lines installed into the water chamber to generate the necessary coolness, being the first temperature controlled fermentacions that history registers. Upon culminating the vintage the warm water was removed from the chamber to be filled again the next winter. As the production grew the quantity of cold water was not sufficient, for which ice bars were added in, to achieve the desired effect. Not existing electric pumps at the time, the labourers achieved the circulation of the wine through a pump prompted by their own strength generated by pedalling in a sort of fixed bicycle.

Today we can see the pipes mentioned in the second floor underground. Specialist indicated this could be the first fermentation temperature control system that the vitiviniculture history registers.

Water chamber
Pump system