Distillery: Cepa Inka
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).
Distillery founded in: 2014
Pisco Varieties: Quebranta, Italia, Uvina, Mosto Verde Italia, Acholado
Our Crush: Uvina. Notable notes of olives will take your breath away. Light in mouth, well-rounded, easy to drink.
Miguel Faustino studied business administration in Lima. He´s also Estela´s son, so you´re probably thinking- ok, she passed on the pisco torch to him, and he´ll do the same with his kids right? Well, kind of.
You see, at first, Estela didnt´t really want him to go into the pisco business. Why? Precisely because
it´s not business, at least that´s the perception in Peru. I often came accross producers who see pisco as a hobby, as something to do on the side, like training for a half-marathon or taking your kids to six flags on the weekend. So when Miguel announced he´d go into making pisco and dedicate himself full time to that endeavor, his family was, at first, a bit sceptical, to say the least. Why did you bother getting a university degree if it´s to end up making pisco? They´d ask him. To which Miguel replied:
That´s precisely why I pursued a degree in business administration- I want to apply it to the pisco world
He goes on explaining: the pisco industry´s cancer is the fact that pisco producers don´t live off pisco, they just see it as a hobby. So in 2014, Miguel decides to go all in. 26 year-old Miguelquits his job and heads out to Cañete, where his mother was already producing pisco under the brand name Pisco Estela (See previous post). Except he doesn´t join his mother´s business, no. That would be too easy. He starts his own. Cepa Inka is born.
From right to left: Miguel Faustino (Cepa Inka founder), Pietro Ciuffini (Rompe Mar Associate), Guillaume Hansart (Rompe Mar founder), all enjoying a pisco drink under the shade of a vineyard.
He starts out the only way one can start- with almost no cash (about 2,000 USD), and by taking baby steps. With that initial investment, he makes 80 boxes of wine and 20 boxes of pisco, by purchasing his mother´s grapes and distilling at a local distillery the family knows. He stroke a deal with Estela, whereby she´d supply him with that pisco and he´d pay her back as he made sales.
Since then, Miguel´s business skills have proved useful. He´s had to juggle between learning about pisco production, taking care of the vineyard, and developing a sales network in a highly competitive market in Lima, as well as preparing for the export market. But the key thing is that he´s never abandoned the countryside. He now lives in Cañete with his wife and daughter.
The countryside is not something you go to once a week. You have to go everyday.
Young grape buds. Gradually, they´ll grow larger and sweeter until ripe for harvest.
I´d Met Miguel a couple of years back, and I´ve seen his evolution. I last saw him in October 2019, and he´s on track to making his dream a reality- living off pisco, as a business, full time. That year, he´d produced 10,000L of pisco and 15,000L of wine. He´s now making plans to open his very own distillery facility next year. Cepa Inka is definitely a bodega worth following...