Bodega: Pisco Estela
Location: Cañete, 2hrs drive south of Lima, a vast & fertile basin fed by the Cañete river, which descends from the Andes (the same river that feeds our Rompe Mar vineñards a few hundreds of meters above).
Bodega Founded in: 1983
Pisco Varieties: Italia, Quebranta, Uvina, Mosto Verde Italia, Acholado
Our Crush: The Quebranta! Magical. Intense aromas in nose and persistent after-taste.
I met Estela a few years back. Her story is somewhat unusual. You see, you picture vineyards, and you´re thinking sunshine, dry weather, rocky grounds, etc. Estela grew up in a very different place though: think snakes, frogs, a constant army of deadly insects just waiting for an opportunity to strike you, tons of rain, and really huge trees. Yeah you guessed it, the rainforest. Estela grew up in Chachapoyas, in the Peruvian Amazon. So how the hell did Estela end up making pisco more than 1,000km away from her birthplace? Love. The things we do for love...Not love for pisco, love for her husband, of course.
SO HOW THE HELL DID ESTELA END UP MAKING PISCO MORE THAN 1,000 KM AWAY FROM HER BIRTHPLACE? LOVE.
In 1975, she travels to Lima to accompany her sister (her parents didn´t want her sister to travel there alone). She thus paused her studies for a year to do that. One day, she attends a party and there, love at first sight! She meets a handsome young man named Moises Rufino Faustino Ramos. They spend all night dancing together, and then start hanging out. In 1981, they get married. Moises was an agronomic engineer from Cañete, and promptly snatched her away from her rainforest to live in Cañete.
They started from scratch. Through a loan from the Banco Agrario, they began first by planting cotton. Indeed, cotton was the main thing at the time. Cañete´s hymn even features a part about cotton, but none about pisco...But on the side, they begin a small pisco production, mainly for family and friends. They´d bottle it in recycled bottles, or people would just show up with their own recipients. Estela was never really serious about pisco. Again, their core business was the cotton, remember? This being said, her friends and family began applying a mounting pressure on her to take this endeavor more seriously, as the quality of her stuff was nothing short of breathtaking. So she decides to take the great leap.
The next step was finding a name for her bodega. She simply decided to call it Pisco "Estela", because that´s how everyone was already referring to it. A no brainer. In the year 2000, she formalized everything, obtained her Denomination of Origin certificate, and began participating in pisco contests, winning a myriad of medals over the years. Unfortunately, Moises passed away a while back, but Estela goes on carrying his torch, incessantly. Today, she´s inspired her son Miguel to continue with the pisco-making tradition- under a different brand name though- Cepa Inka. More on that story later.
Estela and her son Miguel, standing behind their bar
Pisco Estela, and some of the medals won in all those contests
A special edition bottle made in honor of Moises, Estela´s husband who passed away.
Pretty nice location to conduct an interview