A toast in the region of Pisco

The "Ruta del Pisco" makes up dozens of wineries in Ica, capital and region of production of wine and pisco south of the country.

Popularly divided into two categories: traditional and industrial, whose main differences are the annual production volume and the interior and exterior appearance of the buildings that house them.

Wineries as “El Catador“ or “Lazo” have retained their original facilities to sell wine and pisco, offering the possibility to follow the traditional process of elaboration of pisco through demonstration between January and March. The winery “Tacama”, considered the pioneer and one of the largest production volume, has renovated and expanded facilities located in the vineyard, opening the doors to wine tourism with guided tours and restaurant area and tasting.

Hire a trusted taxi at a travel agency on the ground to learn about this popular Peruvian distillate. I recommend going to the artisan wineries early in the morning, to end in an “industrial” wineries before lunch. We did the Taster’s visit, Lazo and Tacama between 8am and noon. To be in Huacachina before 4pm and take the tour of the sand duning from 4 to 6pm.

Pisco is a distilled grape juice once fermented for about fifteen days. The distillation process involves boiling the fermented grape juice, using a giant copper pot fully sealed except at the top, opening from a tube through which vapours emerge (alcohol) once cooled it goes through a coil (spiral metal tube) immersed in cold water
becomes a clear liquid, pisco. It is a drink with 40% of alcohol which has a different flavour and aroma depend on the type of grape used. Non-aromatic grapes are Uvina, Mollar and Quebranta varieties recommended to drink in cocktail mode. The Italy, Moscatel, Torontel and Albilla, varieties are recommended to drink without mixing with
soft drinks or juices, colloquially called pure drinking pisco.

Contrary to what one might think, studies about the history of Pisco reveal that this popular drink is not from the town of Pisco but in Ica, 60 km south. Facts documented by the scribes of the Spanish Viceroy Conde de Nieva in 1563, which states that they would name a town Pisco in the south. City finally founded in 1640 by Viceroy Pedro
Toledo Leyva, when this drink already existed. The same jars originally used in the fermentation of grape juice.

The name “Pisco” is adapted from the Quechua word “Piscu” translating is bird. This gave the Inca artisans producing pottery jars of clay to transport and store liquids their name. In Ica, much of the artisanal wineries have shifted their production to areas far from their original location due to technical and historical reasons. The first reasons are the result of state regulations on public health, they are very strict in applying quality standards of production, why various stages of the traditional process such as grape stomping was stopped in the century and has been replaced for mechanical press.

The historical reasons are the result of decisions taken by the dictator Velasco Alvarado in the mid-twentieth century, when it produced one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the country: “Agrarian reform” based on the abolition of property private partnership that led to the division and distribution of the lands of the landowners between “the people”. A society that came from slavery with a high rate of illiteracy and alcoholism, unaware of the  technical and business management processes.

Thus economic development was diminished and ballasting forever, seriously damaging the thriving Peruvian economy strongly linked to agriculture. In Ica, the immediate consequence was the suspension and relocation of production of wine and Pisco.