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History of Pisco in Peru

History of Pisco in Peru

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Peruvian Pisco is a designation of origin that is reserved for the alcoholic brandy of grapes produced in Peru since the late sixteenth century.1 It is the typical distillate of this country, made from the fermented wine of certain varieties of grapes (Vitis vinifera), whose value has crossed its borders, as evidenced by the records of shipments made through the port of Pisco to Europe and other parts of America since the seventeenth century, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Guatemala , Panama, and the United States, since the mid-nineteenth century.

It is one of the Peruvian flag products and is only produced on the coast (up to 2000 m above sea level) of the departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna.

XVI and XVII Centuries

The first vine plantations in Peru

With the foundation of Lima in 1535, as the City of Kings, the first stones were placed for the building of churches in Peru and with it the need to supply wine for the celebration of.  In order to achieve this goal, the first vine plantations were started in these lands, in the most fertile areas.

The first vine arrived in Peru at the end of the first half of the 16th century, from the Canary Islands.The Marquis Francisco de Caravantes was in charge of importing the first grape branches received from those islands.Hundred years before (1453), Chuquimanco, cacique of the lands south of Lima, watched at dusk flocks of little birds that crossed the marine horizon, in search of islands for rest, [citation needed] were thousands of birds that Chuquimanco knew in his language as pishqus. They inspired their potter village and gave it their name. This is how Pedro Cieza de León recounts it in 1550 in The Chronicle of Peru: “Pisco is the name of birds”.

During the XVI and XVII centuries the Viceroyalty of Peru became the main wine producer in South America, being its epicenter the Ica Valley, where Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera founded, in 1563, the “Villa de Valverde del Valle de Ica “(current Ica). In 1572, the town of “Santa María Magdalena del Valle de Pisco” was founded. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, chroniclers of the time would say that” it was at the Marcahuasi ranch, in Cuzco, that the first winemaking took place in South America. “

The birth of pisco

In the beginning, the production of grapes was destined only for the production of wine, but little by little the liquor was also introduced. According to Peruvian historian Lorenzo Huertas, the production of grape brandy in Peru would have begun in the mid-sixteenth century, and adds that the studies of the American Brown Kendall and the German Jakob Schlüpman realize that “the expansion of the wine market and the brandy was produced in the last third of the sixteenth century. “

In the Archivo General de Indias there is a request made by Jerónimo de Loaysa and others, to “settle in the Pisco Valley under certain conditions”, which was approved by the Spanish Crown on February 10, 1575.6 In the same file , is a copy of a real provision of November 26, 1595, by which Agustín Mesía de Mora was given the title of “public notary, of mines and records and shipping offices of the port of Pisco, in Peru”.

The Peruvian researcher Emilio Romero points out that, in 1580, Sir Francis Drake entered the port of Pisco and asked for a ransom for the prisoners he took; the villagers to complete the rescue paid him with 300 jugs of aguardiente from the area. Later, in 1586, the sale in Panama of “cooked wine” from Peru was prohibited, ordering “That in the city of Panama […] no innkeeper […] can sell or sell in public or secret any wine cooked […] Everything that is sold in the taverns and grocery stores of these reynos [is] without a mixture of stew “, then the export of any kind wine to Panama would be prohibited, by a provision of December 17, 1614 , which prescribed “That no person […] can take to the city of Panama came from Peru of any kind”.

In 1613 a will was registered in Ica that leaves documentary evidence of the elaboration of grape brandy in said area. This testament was extended by a resident named Pedro Manuel “el Griego”, a native of Corfu, dated that year and who is kept in the General Archive of the Nation, in Lima, within the notarial protocols of Ica. , said resident states that he possesses “thirty jars of vurney full of brandy, plus a barrel full of aguardiente that terna thirty botixuelas of the said brandy”, plus the technological implements to produce this distilled beverage, “[…] a large boiler of Copper to extract aguardiente, with its cannon cap, two pultayas the one with which the pipe passes and the other healthy which is smaller than the first. “In any case, it would be possible to conclude the production of aguardiente some time ago; In this regard, Lorenzo Huertas points out that it should be taken into account “that, although in 1613 the will was signed, these instruments of production existed much earlier”.

The production of large-scale grape liquor sold by the Jesuits in Lima, Arequipa, Cuzco, Ayacucho and Potosí in Upper Peru increased in 1617. Lorenzo Huerta indicates that the studies of Brown Kendall and Jakob Schlüpman would show that the expansion of the wine and brandy market “achieved unusual limits in the seventeenth century.”

The first identification of the brandy with the place – “Pisco brandy” -, would have been made in 1630 by the peninsular Spaniard Francisco López de Caravantes, when he expounded in his “Relation” that is preserved manuscript and that is dated in 1630, that ” the valley of Pisco, is still the most abundant of excellent wines from all of Peru, from there one that competes with our Jerez, the so-called “Pisco brandy”, to be extracted from the small grape, is one of the most exquisite liqueurs that baby in the world. “

In a documentary exhibited by History Channel, the Peruvian anthropologist Jorge Flores Ochoa explains that this grape brandy began to be made in the town of Pisco and was distributed along the Peruvian coast, even reaching the Chilean coasts.

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