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Pisco, Peru’s famous brandy, is made from distilled fermented grape juice in five protected winemaking regions.
Most of the Pisco wineries are in the coastal valley regions south of the country.
To learn about Peru’s national drink, visiting a Pisco winery is an enriching immersive experience.
Rivadeneyra, one of the oldest Pisco wineries is located in Lunahuana, about 3 hours south of Lima.
Invited by our friend, Cecilia Portella Morote, a Peruvian gastronomy critic, we went on a Pisco tour in Lunahuana.
As Pisco novices, we were excited about the Pisco tour. Beyond Pisco, we were impressed by how much more the area has to offer.
Discover what to do in Lunahuana and a fascinating Pisco winery tour.
Lunahuana Peru – A Day Trip from Lima
Lunahuana is a small town by the Cañete River about 3 hours south of Lima. This town has historical significance as it was once the second-largest city of the Inca Empire.
A popular destination for Pisco, Lunahuana is also known for its stunning landscapes.
It is a popular destination amongst Peruvian locals and tourists for whitewater rafting, hiking, and more.
El Ruta Del Pisco – The Pisco Route in Peru
To put a spotlight on Pisco Bodegas or wineries, the Pisco Route or El Ruta del Pisco was created in 2004.
This official Pisco Route starts in Lima and goes all the way to Tacna in the south of Peru.
There are five main areas on the Pisco Trail. They are D.O. (Denomination of Origin) and include Arequipa, Ica, Moquegua, Tacna, and the most recent, Lunahuana.
Authentic Food Quest Tip: Ica is one of the most important regions for Pisco wineries with Pisco tour and tastings. Although Ica is further from Lima, you can still enjoy a full day trip from Lima. If you are an early riser, check this winery tour from Lima with a unique oasis visit with wildlife sightseeing.
For a local winery tour with a buggy ride and sand boarding practice, you may prefer this Ica Winery tour.
The Lunahuana Pisco Route
The Lunahuana Pisco Route, the first Pisco Route in the Lima region, was established in 2015.
With five Pisco winery stops on the route, you’ll discover variations of Pisco brandy and the unique making process.
One of the stops on the Pisco Route is Viña Los Reyes winery, where we also stopped.
Vina Los Reyes is known for making not only Pisco, but also high-quality wines from grapes grown in Lunahuana Valley.
This Peruvian winery makes semi-dry wines as well as sparkling wines.
Other wineries you can visit on the Lunahuana Pisco Route are:
Popular Lunahuana Tours With Pisco Winery Visits
With many outdoor activities, Pisco, and rich gastronomy, you can easily spend a day or two in Lunahuana.
Some of the most popular tours in Lunahuana combine water rafting, zipline, and ATV activities with a Pisco winery visit.
If you don’t want to sort out your own transportation to Lima and back, consider an all-inclusive tour from Lima.
These two Lunahuana tours offer a range of activities that will have you discover Lunahuana in one day.
This first Lunahuana Tour combines a rafting and ATV experience prior to a winery visit.
With a similar offer, this full-day Lunahuana Tour from Lima also has two wineries visits included.
How to Get From Lima to Lunahuana
We went on an organized press tour to Lunahuana, though it is fairly easy to get to from Lima. The trip requires a stop in Canete, the coastal city, right before Lunahuana.
A bus trip from Lima to Canete takes about 3 hours. From there you will need to take a collectivo or shared taxi to Lunahuana.
The bus company Soyuz in Lima will drive you to Canete for about $5.30 USD (S/.18) with at least one bus every hour. During the holidays, you might want to plan in advance and book your tickets ahead.
Once you reach Canete, you will need to find the collectivos or shared taxis for Lunahuana. One way tickets cost only about $1 USD (S/.3.5). You will find the collectivos at the Lunahuana bus stop a short taxi ride from your drop-off.
The collectivos will drive you to Lunahuana for an additional 45 minutes.
Where to Stay in Lunahuana For Pisco Winery Visits
If you plan on visiting several wineries and enjoying the local outdoor activities, consider an overnight stay in Lunahuana.
Your hotel in Lunahuana will be able to help organize your Pisco tour. Additionally, they can help you with the local transportation from taxis, collectivos, or local bus rides.
Here are a couple of hotels catering to food lovers we recommend.
El Encanto is a charming guest house located near Plaza del Arma in the center of Lunahuana.
You will find a comfortable room with a delicious breakfast included. It is the perfect place to rest after a busy day of exploration of Lunahuana. Double rooms start at $77/night.
La Viña de Oscar is a great option for those looking to relax on a private winery. Located in Canete, only about 15 miles from Lunahuana. Your hosts Oscar and Carmen will help arrange activities and winery visits in the region. Enjoy complimentary Pisco Sours on the property. Double rooms start at $40/night.
Another option is Bodega de La Motta, one of the wineries on the Lunahuana Pisco Route. With a swimming pool and complimentary Pisco Sour cocktail to welcome you, enjoy your stay at a Pisco winery. Double rooms start at $60/night.
Visiting A Pisco Winery – Bodega Rivadeneyra
For an in-depth Pisco experience, we went to Bodega Rivadeneyra, one of the oldest Pisco wineries in Peru.
Established in 1756, the proximity of this family-owned and operated Pisco winery, makes it an easy day trip from Lima.
During our visit, we had the chance to meet the owner, Julio Vidal Rivadeneyra. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious throughout the tour.
To visit Bodega Rivadeneyra, you can contact them directly on their Facebook Page or call +51 1 2747459. They are located at Uchupampa, Alta Km 44.5, in Lunahuaná.
Pisco Tour – Four Types of Peruvian Pisco
As we got started on the Pisco tour we were surprised to learn that there were differences in Pisco based on the production method.
While Julio passionately talked about the nuances of Pisco, we likened it to the subtle variations found in wine.
All around were impressive awards Bodega Rivadeneyra has received from various competitions.
Bodega Rivadeneyra makes the four main types of Pisco, all of which have won recognition and acclaim.
Pisco Puro or Pure Pisco
Pisco Puro or Pure Pisco, in English, is made exclusively from just one type of grape varietal.
The Quebranta grape varietal is the most popular one used for Pisco Puro.
At Bodega Rivadeneyra, they make it using a non-aromatic grape called Uvina, which comes from the valley of Lunahuana.
This elegant Pisco is used and recommended for making the popular Peruvian Pisco Sour cocktails.
Pisco Mosto Verde – Premium Pisco
The name Pisco Mosto Verde, does not refer to a type of grape variety, but rather the distillation process.
Unlike the typical distillation process, grapes used to make Pisco Mosto Verde are not allowed to ferment completely.
The resulting liquid has more sugar content and is a little sweeter. The Pisco taste is smoother and more velvety.
However, making Pisco Mosto Verde requires twice the number of grapes that it takes to make Pisco Puro.
Not surprisingly, these are some of the more expensive Pisco’s. Generally, they are sipped slowly allowing you to savor Pisco’s unadulterated taste.
Bodega Rivadeneyra makes a Pisco Verde Italia.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you’d like to try extraordinary Peruvian artisanal premium Pisco, you can order it online. Barsol Primero makes premium Quebranta Peruvian Pisco, and you can use it to make a delicious Peruvian Pisco Sour at home.
Pisco Acholado or Pisco Blend
Pisco Acholados are blends of any two or more of different Pisco grape varietals.
Most Pisco Acholados are a blend of non aromatic grapes and aromatic grape varieties. The ratios depend on the master distiller, typically following recipes passed down through generations.
Quebranta grape, the backbone, is mixed with smaller amounts of aromatic grape varieties like Italia, Moscatel, Torontel.
The one Bodega Rivadeneyra makes, combines 60% of the aromatic Italia grapes and 40% of the non-aromatic uvina grapes.
Pisco Aromatico is Pisco made from a single aromatic grape varietal. These aromatic grapes tend to be floral and fruit-forward, enhancing the sensory experience.
Pisco grapes, Italia and Moscatel are favorites for making this type of fruity and intense Pisco.
Bodega Rivadeneyra makes a delightful Pisco Italia with fruity and floral aromas. This style of Pisco makes a great aperitif.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you have never tried Peruvian Pisco, you can order it online and have it shipped to your home. Start with a Peruvian Pisco Mosto Verde handcrafted at one of the oldest distilleries in Ica, Peru. Sip on the luxurious flavors and bold spirit of Peru, when you order a bottle online.
Bodega Rivadeneyra Pisco Tour Making Process
Our Pisco winery visit was in January when the winery was not in operation. We learned from Julio on the tour, that harvest takes place between February and April.
If you would like to see or participate in the activities, plan your trip in that time frame.
Once harvested by hand, the grapes are transferred to lagares, which are deep basins and pressed manually.
Fermentation in Botijas
During the second week of March, Bodega Rivadeneyra celebrates the Fiesta de la Vendimia or wine harvest celebration.
Locals from the region and tourists come together to participate in stomping the grapes by foot in deep basins.
After the grapes are pressed, the juice is filtered and goes into the fermentation stage. The fermentation takes place in large adobe containers known as botijas or pisqueras and lasts for about 10-14 days.
Peruvian Pisco Distillation Alembics
After fermentation, the distillation process takes place in large alembics.
The alembics are heated up by ovens located underneath providing a steady heat for a better Pisco flavor.
Once the fermented juice heats up, it is cooled in a water pool covered by serpentine coils.
The resulting condensed liquid that leaves the coils is Pisco.
The Pisco is then kept in large tanks for at least 6 months before being bottled. According to Julio, it takes about 10 kilos of grapes to make one liter of Pisco.
RELATED: Read about mezcal production at Geu Beez distillary in Oaxaca, Mexico and the use of copper alembics.
Pisco Museum at Bodega Rivadeneyra
In addition to offering Pisco tours, Bodega Rivadeneyra also has a Pisco museum or Museo de Pisco on site.
The museum is focused on the preservation of traditional and artisanal Pisco production processes. In it are Pisco exhibits as well as old Pisco bottles from the regions of Lima, Arequipa, Tacna and Ica.
Even though the displays were in Spanish, it was a fascinating journey into the history and importance of Pisco in Peru.
How to Drink Pisco – Pisco Cocktails
In Peru, you’ll find several types of Pisco cocktails. All are made with Peruvian Pisco, the national drink of the country.
In addition to Pisco Sour, the most famous Pisco cocktail, here are a few others worth sampling on your travels.
Created in Lima at Morris Bar in the 1920s. This classic Peruvian Pisco cocktail remains popular today. This frothy, sweet and sour cocktail contains only five ingredients. It starts with Peruvian Pisco, lime, sugar, egg white, and angostura bitters.
Neighboring Chile, has its own version of the Pisco Sour. Despite the long-standing dispute about the origins of this cocktail, it is a must-try in Peru.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: How to Make an Authentic Peruvian Pisco Sour
Another simple, yet elegant Peruvian Pisco cocktail is the Chilcano. This cocktail is a slightly sweeter than the Pisco Sour and is less strong.
It starts out with Peruvian Pisco followed by the addition of lime juice, ginger ale and an optional dash of angostura bitters. Other options include adding soda water, cola or Peru’s famous soft drink, Inca Kola.
This is undoubtedly one of the most colorful Pisco cocktails. The colors are said to be inspired by the Flag of the Inca Empire.
With a Pisco base, layers of grenadine, orange juice and creme de menthe, the cocktail comes alive.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy this Peruvian Pisco cocktail. It is fruity and aromatic, perfect for a summer evening.
The floral and fruity Pisco Punch has its roots in San Francisco at the end of the 19th century.
It was invented by Duncal Nicol who uses pineapple syrup instead of egg whites.
While there are several variations of the recipe, most include Pisco, pineapple syrup, lemon juice and ice.
Quite tasty, it has been described as a “taste of lemonade with a kick like vodka, or worse.”
Where To Enjoy A Peruvian Pisco Sour in Lima
Visiting a Pisco winery helped us understand the popularity behind the famous Pisco brandy.
If your time is limited, you can always appreciate Pisco and the famous Pisco Sour in Lima.
There is no shortage of places to try a Pisco Sour in Lima. Not being connoisseurs of Peru’s national drink, we asked a few limeños (people from Lima) for their top favorite places.
We have compiled this shortlist for you to enjoy Pisco and Pisco cocktails while in Lima.
Antigua Taberna Queirolo, known as “El Queirolo” is a popular bar, a few blocks from museums, including Museo Larco. This is a wonderful stop to relax after a museum visit. This taberna also offers delicious Peruvian foods.
Address: Avenida San Martin 1090, Pueblo Libre, Lima
Hours: 8:00am to 11:00pm Monday to Saturday, Sunday; 8:00am – 4:00pm
Gran Hotel Bolivar is a historic hotel with great views over the Plaza San Martin. Go there for its historical feel and the famous classic Pisco Sour. Try the La Catedral, a double-sized Pisco Sour, and sip it leisurely as you enjoy the views.
Address: Plaza San Martín, Jr. de la Unión 958, Lima
Hours: Monday to Sunday; 7:00 am to 11:00 pm
Pisco Bar is a stylish and comfortable bar in Miraflores. It was recognized as the best bars for Pisco by the Oenologic Club Magia del Pisco in 2015. They make excellent Pisco cocktails and serve tasty food options.
Address: Pisco Bar, av. Petit Thouars 5390, Miraflores, Lima.
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday; 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday; 12:00 pm to 1:00 am Closed on Sunday and Monday
Superba is a traditional and local bar-restaurant located in San Isidro near where we were staying. It has a bistro feel and offers a mix of local Peruvian foods and Italian classics. You will also find great Pisco cocktails like Chilcanos and craft beers.
Address: Av. Petit Thouars 2884, San Isidro, Lima.
Hours: Monday to Thursday; 12:00 pm to 10:00p, Friday – Saturday; 12:00 pm to 3:00 am, Sunday; 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Looking for More Peruvian Local Food Experiences?
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
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When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest