Peru is an incredibly interesting place in which to grow vines. It is a country characterised by the natural diversity of its landscapes. Its shores are lapped by the Pacific Ocean and give way almost immediately to either desert in the south or mountains to the north, before these level off into the Altiplano high plateau. From the plateau, which sits at an average height of 3750m above sea level, the terrain plunges downwards once again into the deep tropical rainforests of the Amazon. As if this was not sufficiently dramatic Peru is also home to one of the world's most complex river systems and it is in the Peruvian highlands that the great Amazon river begins its journey.
The country lies outside the southern ‘Wine Belt’, the famous band of latitude that encircles the southern hemisphere between 28 and 50 degrees and within which quality viticulture is considered practicable. However, the Wine Belt theory does not account for climatological factors such as altitude or maritime influences, relying instead entirely on latitudinal information; this therefore omits Peru’s coastal plains. And it is precisely here that Peruvian viticulture has found a home, nestled between the cooling waters of the Pacific Ocean and, within just a few miles of the coast, the Andean peaks that rise to dizzying heights of 10,000 feet and more.
The coastal plains around the city of Pisco are the heartland of Peruvian wine production and on either side of it are the towns of Chincha, Ica, Moquegua and Tacna, Peru's viticultural centres. Ica, known locally as 'Land of the Sun', is an oasis of fertile land amid the northern edges of the Atacama Desert.
The wine grape varieties used in Peruvian winemaking are those which are well adapted to warm-climate viticulture. Grenache, the grape behind the wines of the southern Rhone Valley, is a popular variety as is Cabernet Sauvignon and its Bordeaux stablemate Malbec, which has proved so successful in Argentina. The light-skinned Torrontes is a popular white-wine variety in Peru - known locally as Torontel - as too is Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and various forms of Muscat, famously capable of thriving in warm climates.