Unraveling the Origins of Quebranta and Cabernet Sauvignon: Crossing vs. Grafting

graft, grapes, pisco

When it comes to the world of grapevines, there’s more than meets the eye. Behind every grape variety, there’s a fascinating story of how it came into existence. To help us navigate this vineyard of knowledge, we’ll take a close look at the Quebranta grape, a cross between Mollar Cano and Negra Criolla, and Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Crossing Grape Varieties: Quebranta and Cabernet Sauvignon

Quebranta, the quintessential grape variety for making pisco in Peru, is a testament to the art of crossing grape varieties. This unique grape is the result of natural hybridization between two distinct parents, Mollar Cano and Negra Criolla.

In the natural process of grapevine reproduction, vines can cross-pollinate, resulting in the development of new grape varieties with genetic characteristics from both parent grapes. This hybridization also led to the creation of Cabernet Sauvignon, which has become one of the most popular and well-known red wine grape varieties in the world. The name “Cabernet” in Cabernet Sauvignon suggests a relationship with Cabernet Franc, and the “Sauvignon” portion of the name is associated with Sauvignon Blanc.

People often confuse crossing with grafting, so let’s dig deeper into that subject.

The Key Differences: Crossing vs. Grafting

Grafting and crossing grape varieties are two different processes used in viticulture for distinct purposes:

  1. Grafting:
    • Grafting is a horticultural technique used to combine the characteristics of two different grapevines.
    • It involves joining a scion (the top portion of a grapevine with desired characteristics) to a rootstock (the bottom portion with an established root system).
    • The purpose of grafting is to maintain the genetic identity of the scion while benefiting from the rootstock’s attributes, such as disease resistance, adaptability to certain soil types, or growth vigor.
    • Grafting is a form of asexual reproduction that does not result in the creation of a new grape variety; it preserves and propagates existing grape varieties with specific traits.


  1. Crossing grape varieties:
    • Crossing grape varieties is a process of sexual reproduction where two different grapevine varieties breed to create new grape varieties.
    • Crossing can be natural (through pollination) or controlled (to develop new grape cultivars with specific characteristics, such as flavor profiles, disease resistance, or adaptability to certain climates).
    • This process involves the pollination of one grape variety’s flowers with the pollen from another variety’s flowers.
    • The resulting grapevines from this process will have a unique genetic makeup, combining traits from both parent varieties. This can lead to the creation of entirely new grape varieties.


In summary, grafting is a technique used to preserve and combine the traits of existing grape varieties without altering their genetic makeup, while crossing grape varieties is a method for creating entirely new grape varieties by combining the genetics of two parent varieties.

The Timeless Craftsmanship of Copper Alembic Stills: Elevating Pisco Production in Peru

copper still pisco peru

When it comes to the art of distillation, the choice of still plays a pivotal role in shaping the quality and character of the final spirit. Among the various options available, copper alembic stills have long been hailed as the pinnacle of excellence. In this blog post, we will explore the superiority of copper alembic stills, particularly in the context of pisco production in Peru.

Copper has been revered by distillers for centuries, and for good reason. Its unique properties make it an ideal material for crafting alembic stills. The secret lies in copper’s remarkable ability to interact with the spirit during the distillation process. As the liquid vaporizes and rises through the still, it comes into contact with the copper surfaces. This interaction promotes chemical reactions and catalytic processes that enhance the aroma, flavor, and overall character of the distilled spirit.

To truly appreciate the significance of copper alembic stills, let’s turn our attention to the world of pisco production in Peru, where it is crafted with utmost precision. In Peru, the art of Pisco production intertwines tradition with modern techniques. At the heart of this harmonious blend is the copper alembic still, revered for its ability to extract and preserve the essence of the grapes. Through a delicate and artful distillation process, the stills transform the carefully selected grapes into a spirit that captures the very essence of the terroir, embodying the flavors and aromas of the region.

The Superiority of Copper Alembic Stills:

  1. Thermal Conductivity: Copper boasts exceptional thermal conductivity, allowing for efficient heat distribution during distillation. This ensures a controlled and precise process, enabling the separation of impurities and the extraction of desired flavors.
  2. Reactivity: Copper’s unique reactivity influences the chemical reactions that occur during distillation, removing unwanted compounds and producing a smoother, refined spirit. It acts as a catalyst, enhancing the formation of desirable aromas and flavors, while minimizing harsh elements.
  3. Sulfur Removal: Copper has a natural affinity for sulfur compounds, which are common in grape-based spirits. These compounds can contribute to off-flavors. Copper alembic stills effectively bind with sulfur, reducing its presence in the final product and resulting in a purer and more delightful spirit.


Copper alembic stills reign supreme in the realm of distillation. Their unrivaled ability to enhance aromas, flavors, and purity is evident in the illustrious world of pisco production in Peru. So, the next time you savor a glass of pisco, take a moment to appreciate the mesmerizing artistry behind copper alembic stills, the custodians of perfection in distillation.

The Pisco Puzzle: Unraveling the Alternate Theory of Fish Origins

In the world of spirits, Pisco is renowned for its distinct flavor and rich history. But have you ever wondered about the true origins of the name “Pisco”? For centuries, the prevailing belief has been that it derived from the Quechua word “pishku,” meaning bird. However, a lesser-known theory proposes that “Pisco” may have its roots in the abundance of fish found in the port of Pisco, Peru. Join us on a fascinating journey as we delve into this alternate theory and explore the intriguing connections between fish, birds, and the town of Pisco.

While the traditional interpretation associates “Pisco” with birds, a growing body of research supports the notion that fish played a significant role in shaping the name. It is fascinating to note that the original spelling of “pisco” was “pescu,” derived from the Spanish word for fish, “pescado.” This linguistic connection adds weight to the argument that the term “pisco” may have emerged due to the prominence of fish in the region.

The town of Pisco has a long history as a fishing port. Even during pre-Columbian times, the indigenous people of the region relied on fishing for their sustenance and livelihoods. The Spanish colonizers, upon discovering the abundance of fish in the area, began referring to it as “piscis,” eventually evolving into the name “pisco.” This suggests a direct link between the town’s fishing heritage and the origin of the name.

Archaeological studies have uncovered fishing equipment, including hooks, nets, and harpoons, as well as fish and marine animal remains in the Pisco region dating back to pre-Columbian times. Moreover, historical records from the colonial period indicate that both the indigenous population and the Spanish settlers were engaged in fishing and seafood processing. The indigenous people’s knowledge of the marine environment was highly valued by the Spanish, who relied on them to establish fishing operations. This evidence further reinforces the connection between Pisco and its fishing industry.

While the theory of fish as the origin of “Pisco” is gaining traction, it is important to acknowledge the ongoing debates surrounding its veracity. The Quechua interpretation, linking “Pisco” to birds, still holds weight due to linguistic evidence. The alternate theory of fish and the traditional theory of birds may coexist, both influenced by the interplay between fish, birds, and the unique ecology of the Pisco region.

The origins of the word “Pisco” remain a captivating enigma, with multiple theories vying for attention. As we explore the fascinating alternate theory centered around fish, we are reminded of the region’s rich history, where fishing and the pisco industry likely developed in tandem. Whether you envision birds or fish when savoring a glass of Pisco, the debate adds an intriguing layer to this beloved spirit’s cultural heritage

Mythbusters: How Low Will you Go? It Depends on Your Cultural Perspective

Pisco, the beloved distilled spirit from Peru, has been the subject of many myths and misconceptions. One of the most common myths is that pisco is made at low altitudes, with grapes grown in low coastal valleys. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, for most of us, pisco from Peru is actually a high-altitude spirit.

To shed some light on this topic, we’ve included it in our mythbuster series. But before we dive into the details, it’s important to note that the concept of altitude can vary wildly between individuals, and how you view it will most likely depend on your cultural perspective.

In Peru, the production of pisco is regulated by the Denomination of Origin (D.O.). According to the D.O., pisco must be produced at 6,562 feet or lower from grapes grown at those elevations.

It’s worth noting, however, that the concept of altitude is quite different in the Andean region. While Peruvians consider 6,562 feet to be fairly low, in the U.S., that is a relatively high elevation. For example, Denver, known as the “Mile High City”, has an elevation of 5,280 feet!

To put things into perspective, there are Peruvian piscos made at altitudes higher than Denver in the D.O. of Arequipa in the Caraveli Valley, which is located at 5,837 feet. This means that even though Peruvians consider 6,562 feet to be low, the vast majority of Peruvian pisco is produced at elevations that are considered high by many other standards.

The altitude at which pisco is produced is actually an important factor in its unique flavor profile. The grapes used to make pisco in Peru are grown in the high-altitude regions of the Andes mountains, which gives them a distinctive flavor that is different from grapes grown at lower elevations. Additionally, the lower boiling point at high altitude can help to preserve the delicate flavors and aromas of the grapes during the distillation process, resulting in a spirit that is particularly flavorful and aromatic.

In conclusion, the myth that Peruvian pisco is made at low altitudes is just that – a myth. The reality is that many Peruvian piscos are produced at high altitudes, which is actually an important factor in creating unique flavor profiles. By understanding the impact that altitude can have on the distillation process, we can gain a better appreciation for the unique qualities of pisco and other distilled spirits that are produced in different regions around the world.

Compare Pisco from Peru & 100% Agave Tequila

What are the differences between Pisco from Peru and 100% Agave Tequila? You will find the answers below!

differences tequila pisco, agave spirits, tequila peru

Raw Materials: There are eight heritage grape varieties: Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Uvina, Italia, Torontel, Moscatel, and Albilla. There is one agave variety: Tequilana Weber Blue.

Extraction: Grapes are pressed by foot or machine for their sugar-rich juices at 23-24 brix. Only the juices are fermented. Agave hearts are harvested and cooked by hydrolysis in order to simplify complex carbohydrates for fermentation. The cooked agave is milled by stone or machine for its sugar-rich pulp at 22-32 brix.

Fermentation: Only pure grape juice is fermented. There is no water allowed. A maceration period with skins is permitted, though they must be removed before distillation. For tequila, water is added to the sweet pulp during the milling process to facilitate it separation from the agave fibers. Few distillers ferment with fibers, which is the ancient process and is how most mezcal is still largely made.

Distillation: Mosto (the grape juice + yeast) ferments into wine to 14% ABV before it is single-distilled to proof. It must be between 38-48% ABV by norm. Alembic stills (copper) and falcas are heated by direct flame. For tequila, the mosto (agave, pulp, water, and yeast) ferments into an agave beer to 5%- 6% ABV and is distilled at least twice to reach between 35%- 55% ABV. It is proofed with water to 38% FOR MEXICO & 40% ABV for export to the US. It is less common to distill with fibers. Alembic stills (copper and stainless steel) and column stills are steam heated.

Aging: Pisco rests exclusively rests in neutral vessels. It is never aged in wood. Tequila has the following classifications for aging:

BLANCO: Has the option to rest in oak barrels for up to 30 days

JOVEN: Blanco tequila with an aged tequila blended in*

REPOSADO: Minimum of 60 days in oak barrels

AÑEJO: Ages a minimum of one year in oak barrels no larger than 600 liters.

EXTRA AŃEJO: Ages a minimum of three years in oak barrels no larger than 600 liters


Pisco Certificate Course- Lesson 1: Overview of Pisco

When the first wine was made in 1551, it marked the beginning of a new enological era in the New World. However, it wouldn’t have been possible without the agricultural prowess of Peru’s natives, who were experts in cultivating and irrigating the arid coast. Their expertise and manpower, combined with the demanding manual labor & agricultural knowledge of African slaves, made grape-growing highly successful in Peru.

By the end of the 16th century, the popularity of Peruvian wine posed a formidable threat to the Spanish wine industry. In an attempt to hinder wine production in Peru, Spanish royalty imposed high taxes, banned Peruvian wine in their colonies and prohibited the planting of new vines in Peru. However, they weren’t successful until 1641, when King Philip The Fourth prohibited the importation of Peruvian wine to Spain, cutting Peruvian vintners off from one of their last remaining markets.

Instead of abandoning their vines, locals began to use the grapes to make brandy. In the tradition of the Old World’s firewater, they called this grape distillate “aguardiente de uva”, following alchemical methods from the Middle Ages. Eventually, the name changed to “pisco”.

Over time, the viticultural knowledge of the Spanish blended with agricultural traditions passed down from the Incas and African laborers. Years of trial and error led to diversification and selection of the best varieties, identification of optimal regions for grape growing and improved production practices. These factors, along with a climate favorable to grape growing, have allowed Peruvians to proudly craft their national beverage for hundreds of years.

Pisco is defined by the Denomination of Origin as “the product obtained from the distillation of fresh musts of recently fermented pisco grapes”. If you are new to pisco, you might not know what musts are. Must is freshly crushed grape juice that may contain some skins, seeds and possibly some stems. Depending on their preferences, master distillers in Perú may leave some skins, seeds and stems in the must during maceration.

Maceration is the process of soaking all or some of the skins, seeds and stems to extract aromas and flavors from the skins and transfer them to the juice. According to the Peruvian Technical Standards, fermentation may occur with or without maceration, or with partial or total maceration of the pomace. It depends on the preferences of the master distiller.  However, the must has to be separated from the pomace before distillation because ONLY wine can be distilled in Peruvian pisco production.

The rich history of pisco shows in the traditions performed throughout the entire pisco-making process, starting with agricultural and spiritual practices in the vineyards and ending when the pisco is consumed. We will cover every my noot detail of those processes in this course, but for now, let’s talk about harvest.

Harvest of pisco grapes happens in Fall in Perú, typically in March or April. The ripe berries are plucked from the vines, giving the master distiller the raw materials needed to craft the perfect batch. The grapes are destemmed and crushed and maceration may or may not occur. With the help of yeasts, the sugar converts the grape juice to alcohol and the juice becomes wine, ready for distillation.

Making pisco is a demonstration of the craft, skill and scientific knowledge of the distiller.  While the wine heats up, boils, evaporates and then condenses into pisco through a scientific process, intuition tells the distiller when to cut the heads from the tails, how to manage the environment, to regulate temperatures and make other very important decisions to obtain a quality product.

Once distillation has converted the wine to pisco, the brandy must rest a minimum of 3 months in neutral vessels such as stainless steel or fiberglass. This makes pisco completely transparent and unaltered, allowing you to fully appreciate the original identity of the spirit. After resting, it can be bottled and is ready for consumption.

Peruvian pisco is unique because it is distilled only one time, making it different from other brandies that are distilled more than once and watered down to proof. That means a master distiller has only one chance to craft an exceptional pisco at the desired proof. However, the ABV must be between 38 and 48%, according to the Denomination of Origin in Perú.

Since nothing is added to Peruvian pisco, that means there is only one ingredient in the bottle: grapes. So, just how many grapes are in one bottle? On average, there are an incredible 7.5 kilos, 16.5 pounds packed in one bottle of puro or acholado, the most common types of pisco. On your screen, you can see how that compares to wine and mosto verde piscos. Next time you go to the grocery store, try to buy 16.5 pounds of grapes and you will get an idea of just how many grapes that is!

Pisco: A Single Denomination of Origin in Peru

Denomination origin pisco, appellation origin pisco, pisco label

Pisco was formally declared a Denomination of Origin in Peru on December 12th, 1990, by Directorial Resolution No. 072087-DIPI. It was ratified by Supreme Decree No. 001-91-ICTI / IND on January 16, 1991. However, we will eternally emphasize that the pisco production methods and traditions had been practiced in Peru hundreds of years before the official formation of the D.O.

We recently made a correction to the PiscoLogía label based on a new regulation for the Denomination of Origin. It was brought to our attention that all piscos should be labeled “Denomination of Origin: Pisco”. That is, the specific region where the spirit is produced should not be specified on the labels, but rather, the one denomination of Pisco. For example, a producer in Tacna should not label bottles with “Denomination/Appellation of Origin, Tacna”, but rather “Denomination/Appellation of Origin, Pisco”.

More information can be found in Resolution No. 13880-2017 / DSD-INDECOPI.

As protecting the rights to pisco is a main priority for the Appellation of Origin in Peru, the Resolution specifies that the purpose of this change was “to imply greater protection in the other member countries of the Andean Community”.

This means the D.O. for pisco from Peru should have more clout in the Andean countries (if you need a refresher on why this is an issue, please buy Ambassador Gutiérrez’s book, “Pisco, its Name, its History”).  While we love to appreciate the distinct terroirs of each region in Peru, we also believe this change will create unity between producers of one of the national symbols of Peru.

Now if you want information about the origin of a pisco, you will have to read the label to find out which region it came from. Here are a couple blog posts to guide you:

1) How to Read a Pisco Label

2) The 5 Pisco-Producing Regions in Peru


Myth #13- Single Distillation makes a pisco brand unique

To tout their piscos, some brands have appropriated production methods required by the D.O., marketing them as unique proprietary techniques. Attempting to distinguish a pisco based on these supposed proprietary production methods is misleading. This blog post will explain why.

First, the D.O. in Peru requires that all pisco be made from 100% grapes. If you produce a clear brandy in Peru and label it pisco, it is strictly required that the spirit be made only from grapes. Nothing can be added to it, not even water. That means if a producer does add something to the must, grapes, or wine before production, or to the brandy after distillation, then they are in violation of the Denomination of Origin in Peru and are subject to punishment. We will explain why producers of other spirits might add water to their distillates in another blog post.

Second, the single distillation method is often appropriated for marketing purposes. For the same aforementioned reasons, claiming single distillation as a proprietary production method is fallacious. ALL pisco made in Peru is distilled once because the D.O. for pisco in Peru requires it.

As we have mentioned on our website and in several blog posts, single distillation allows producers to highlight the terroir and distinctiveness of each grape. It also means master distillers have one chance to obtain the perfect pisco at just the right ABV. This is obviously very different than the production methods used to make other spirits, including Chilean brandy.

Now, does the single distillation method make pisco superior to other distillates such as Chilean brandy, whiskey, or gin? Perhaps, but why compare apples to oranges? Does the single distillation method differentiate one pisco brand from another?  Absolutely not. It is part of what makes pisco, pisco.

In summary, if people ask: “Why do you single distill and add nothing to PiscoLogía?”, the answer is simple: because the D.O. regulations require it. Why do the D.O. regulations require it? The D.O. for pisco in Peru was formed to formalize, regulate, and protect the production traditions perfected over hundreds of years in Peru.

For more information about the D.O. in Peru, please visit: https://www.indecopi.gob.pe/documents/1902049/3747615/pisco+%281%29.pdf/99a9fdfb-0b6a-97ff-06fe-37ddec01899f


Embajador Gonzalo Gutiérrez anuncia la publicación en inglés de “Pisco: su nombre, su historia”

La publicación en inglés prueba que la denominación de origen del pisco le pertenece al Perú

pisco name history, gonzalo gutiérrez

El Embajador Gonzalo Gutiérrez anunció la publicación en inglés de su último trabajo: “Pisco: su nombre, su historia”, la culminación de una investigación sobre el verdadero origen del aguardiente de uva. El trabajo analiza la evidencia etimológica, histórica y cultural para confirmar que el pisco es de Perú.


Al presentar documentos antiguos, procedimientos legales del siglo XVIII y reflexiones sobre el destilado de uva en las artes y la cultura popular, el trabajo del Sr. Gutiérrez muestra los derechos peruanos sobre la Denominación de Origen de la bebida. El autor expresó que compartir su investigación con una audiencia más amplia de habla inglesa catalizará el avance de la D. de O. peruana.


Meg McFarland, traductora del libro, declaró: “El análisis del embajador Gutiérrez es un hito revelador en el ámbito de la industria de las bebidas espirituosas. Mi objetivo como traductora fue ayudar a la comprensión de los lectores de habla inglesa sobre la historia, la cultura y el origen del pisco. Lograr que esta información esté disponible en diferentes idiomas es crucial para el crecimiento del destilado peruano en todo el mundo”.


El lanzamiento virtual del libro se llevará a cabo el 23 de junio a la 1:00 pm EST (7:00 pm CSET, 12:00 m. LIMA). El Embajador presentará los principales argumentos para establecer el origen histórico peruano del pisco. El panel también incluirá a Kami Kenna de PiscoLogía pisco y Bourcard Nesin de Rabobank, quienes compartirán sus puntos de vista sobre el papel del pisco en el sector de bebidas espirituosas.


Haga clic aquí para unirse a la presentación del libro virtual: https://illinois.zoom.us/j/6437912347?pwd=M2ZpSm82TVIxditNSWROd2NJdU9rUT09


Para comprar una copia de “Pisco: su nombre, su historia”, siga el enlace: https://piscocertificate.com/product/pisco-its-name-its-history/.


Sobre el Embajador Gutiérrez Reinel

Gonzalo Gutiérrez es el actual embajador de Perú en Bélgica, Luxemburgo y la Unión Europea. También ha sido Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores del Perú y Embajador del Perú en China y las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York. Recientemente publicó “Pisco Elqui, El Nombre Engañoso”, un ensayo que revela un esquema comercial engañoso montado en la década de 1930 para eludir las regulaciones sobre el uso de nombres geográficos para designar bebidas espirituosas en los Estados Unidos.


Sobre el Pisco

El pisco de Perú es el aguardiente de uva más antiguo de América. Destilado en la tradición del aguardiente ancestral, el pisco es transparente y no se le añeja.  Según la IWSC (Concurso Internacional de Vinos y Licores), el pisco es una de las 5 tendencias de bebidas espirituosas más importantes del mundo, como se ve en su creciente popularidad en la competencia de 2019.


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