The Spanish name Peru is derived from the Quechua term Piruw, which is believed to stem from the word Pelu (water). The country has the oldest known city-like settlement in the Americas, Caral, which can look back on almost 5000 years of history. This means that civilisations existed long before the famous Incas, who likely are often erroneously credited with establishing these earlier settlements, when, in fact, they first appeared over 3000 years later and built their empire on the foundation of the accumulated legacies of earlier cultures. The history of Peru´s indigenous peoples still fascinates the world today, attracting nearly 4.5 million tourists each year (and counting). The Spandards conquered present-day Peru in 1532 and made it an official Spanish colony in 1542. After centuries of subjugation, in 1821 Peru was liberated from Spanish rule by the troops of José de San Martin. Today, Peru is a rising star in the world of gastronomy. A fusion of Spanish, Indian and Asian elements of the greatest variety, Peruvian cuisine is currently seducing the world and is proving to be a welcome motor for increasing export volumes.
Viticulture in Peru
It may come as a surprise to many that Peru was the first – and for a long time, the dominant – wine-producing country in the Americas. In 1547, Don Francisco planted the first vines in Ica, convinced that it was the best choice for wine cultivation in all conquered territory at the time. There are reports of vines being planted in present-day Mexico and Colombia; however, these endeavors were short-lived and unsuccessful. For over 200 years the winemaking and the wine trade flourished along Peru´s Pacific coast, with Peruvian producers dominating the exports to Spain. By the end of the 16th century the abundance of Peruvian wine had already caused Spanish winemakers to revolt! Several unfortunate incidents – namely Phylloxera and the invasion of Chilean forces during the Saltpeter War (also known as the Pacific War) – set Peruvian viticulture back by decades. However, for the past 2-3 decades viticulture has been experiencing a real albeit small-scale revival in Peru. It is remarkable that at a distance of less than 15 degrees from the equator such excellent conditions for fresh and structured wines can be found. The location at the foot of the Andes and the closeness to the Pacific Ocean cause great differences between the daily high and low temperatures. This allows for optimal ripening of the grapes and for acquisition of the necessary acid mantle. In addition, the Pacific fire belt with its volcanic rock provides a particularly fertile base.