AREQUIPA, Peru – Producers of pisco, Peru’s national drink, are showcasing their industry in the southern region of Arequipa, drawing tourists to an area offering numerous natural attractions and dotted by volcanoes.
The region has numerous archaeological sites and dinosaur fossils can be viewed by visitors.
Arequipa is home to about 20 pisco estates, whose owners are passionate about the products they craft.
The regional government has created a pisco route, giving visitors a way to tour the area’s estates in three distinct sections.
The northern part of the route takes visitors to the Camana and Caravel valleys, while the central section leads to the fertile Majes Valley.
A visit to the southern section of the route takes tourists to the La Joya, Santa Rita de Siguas and Vitor valleys.
The route starts in Arequipa city, the regional capital, and takes visitors into the La Joya desert, where they will view landscapes similar to those on Mars.
One of the big treats for visitors is viewing an ash plume rising from the Sabancaya Volcano.
The highlight of the route is the collection of estates producing pisco.
The origin of pisco, the grappa-like beverage that the government has formally adopted as the essential ingredient in the “pisco sour” cocktail it serves at all official functions at home and abroad, hails back to Spain’s arrival in the New World in the 15th century.
Pisco, which in the Quechua language means “little bird,” takes its name from the port located 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of Lima from which the grape eau-de-vie was shipped to Spain and various South American countries in the 16th century.
Pisco is made by distilling, through the application of heat in a still, recently fermented grape juice, a process that yields a strong, nearly clear brandy.
In Peru, eight varieties of grape are used to make different types of pisco, including aromatic and non-aromatic pisco, “acholado” (blended) pisco – from a mixture of two types of grapes – and green pisco, all falling under the registered “pisco” designation.