Pisco is the Peruvian national drink and if you have ever wondered how it is actually made you can now find it out with one of our free unique stops, visiting an amazing 130 year old pisco vineyard.
El Catador, which is the name of this particular pisco vineyard, has passed through the hands of 5 different generations. Throughout those years, they have had to work to balance the tension between keeping old traditions alive and incorporating new technology to produce enough Pisco. The whole process is completely handmade, and it’s part of Ica’s tradition.
Different types of grapes grow here, including quebranta, negra criolla, mollar, uvina, torontel, moscatel and italia being the most popular varieties.
The first thing they explain is the festival (Vendimia) that takes place during harvest time (February and March) and everyone is invited to be part of the entire experience, which begins with the grape collection, taking them to the grape press and even participating in pressing, a scene that perhaps some of you have seen before: people treading grapes following the rhythm of music.
Quick Tip: If traveling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as free Wi-Fi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travelers.
After treading, the grapes pass to another pool in which they get squeezed with a huge wooden press to extract the juice, this press is made from “huaranga“, a type of mesquite which is native to Peru and other South American countries and is around 160 years old.
From this pool, juice and peel is removed; the peel becomes fertilizer or a simple cover of the earth, which prevents raising dust. The juice then passes through the wall to a holding tank of sorts so that clay vessels or “botijas” may be filled. The botijas are placed on the outside, below the tank so that the liquid fills them. They are then moved to a shaded area so that the liquid may ferment for about 2 weeks.
It then goes to a still that can contain 1,600 litres. The still is cooked for 18 hours, during which time the fermented grape juice is converted to steam and passed to another chamber where it will be condensed. Resulting in a clear liquid which will be transferred to another chamber.
The first litres are the head (100L): Distinguished by its high alcohol content – between 50 and 75%; this is used as fuel for the furnace.
Then comes the body (400L): With a 40- 45% alcohol, the official media for the pisco in southern Peru.
Finally the tail-some (1,000L- is obtained), which falls in the still and is discarded.
This is the result of processing 8,000kg of grapes. The body is placed in special plastic containers for pisco, where rests for a month. After that time the pisco of 42% alcohol is finally ready to be bottled and offered for sale.If you find yourself leaving the Pisco Vineyard with a pisco bottle and have no clue of what drinks you can make or how to make them, check our blog post: A Hopster’s guide to Pisco
Did you know?
National Pisco Sour Day is on the first Saturday of every February.