Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ica, Peru, - April 19 – 21 2012

We moved on to the tiny town of Ica and its tasty Pisco vineyards.  We toured three vineyards and distilleries and watched them still using methods used by their ancestors.  This very potent elixir (Peruvian high test wine 18 - 24% content and the Pisco liqueur 48%) and not for the faint of heart.   

In 1551 the first grape vines arrived in Peru, brought by the Spanish from the Canary Islands with the intentions of making wine in their new colonies.  The Spanish King, Carlos III, fearful that the colonists would develop a wine making industry that would threaten production on the Iberian Peninsula, imposed a very high tax on wines produced in the Americas. 

With this said, the Spanish in Peru began to produce their own liquor from the juice of the grapes, in the form of brandy.  The majority of the grapevines exported to Peru were planted in the fertile valleys of Ica, very close to the present-day city of Pisco, where the Piskos ethnic group once lived.  This culture was known for its production of clay jars, which were used to ferment alcoholic drinks.  The Spanish decided to employ the same clay jars to store the grape brandy they had begun to produce, and which soon became known as Pisco.

The Pisco vineyard, the ancient clay jars, 
the copper still and the pressing of the grape

Ica, Peru, lies in the middle of 73 miles of desert.  We had a total blast dune-buggying over the never ending sand dunes flying thru the air and thankfully strapped in and under the careful driving skills of these world class drivers who race these carts at speeds you wouldn't drive on the highway.  We were slipping and sliding around and over the tops of shear dunes then dropping hundreds of feet flat out held in place only by gravity and good seat belts...

Kaija wheeling over the monster sand dunes outside of Ica. 
Put this on your Bucket List!

...and...if that weren’t a big enough ride... then ya gotta try strapping on to a sand board (akin to a snow boogie board) and sliding face first down 600 ft vertical sand dunes laughing and screaming like a 6 year old and... finding sand in places the sun don't shine :o)

This is John taking our picture as we slide down the 600 feet of sand
Yes, we are the tiny specks at the bottom of the dune

...Next stop the extraordinary Lines of Nasca!

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