Distillery: Hijo del Sol
Location: Lunahuaná, 3:30hrs southeast of Lima, on the foothills of the Andes, in the same village as the one Rompe Mar´s distillery is located.
Distillery founded in: 2010
Pisco Varieties: Quebranta, Mollar, Italia, Torontel, Moscatel, Uvina, Acholado (from 6 grape varieties)
Our Crush: The Moscatel. It´s sublime. Characteristical aromas of roses and peaches.
The Hijo del Sol distillery is situated in an idyllic location: facing the Cañete river, overlooking the barren mountains of Lunahuaná. The original distillery, called Bodega el Sol was founded over 100 years ago by Marco Martinez Green´s ancestors. Bodega el Sol carries its name well in an area that receives over 300 days of sunlight per year- perfect for vineyard development. At that time, Lunahuaná was a tiny village, even tinier than it is today. Although 3h30 away from Lima, it felt like a world apart- The tiny village , no more than 25 years ago, had just one telephone line which had to first dial through Cañete before getting connected to Lima.
Old machinery used for pisco production- today, the distillery is equipped with modern machinery but proudly showcases its origins.
THE TINY VILLAGE, NO MORE THAN 25 YEARS AGO, HAD JUST ONE TELEPHONE LINE
These were different times indeed. Marco´s ancestors lived off pisco and wine, produced in the old distillery located 300m from the modern-day distillery that Marco operates from. After an earthquake in 2006 that had devastating consequences, the distillery closed for a few years. In 2010, Marco saw an ad on TV by CITEVID ( Agroindustrial Technological Innovation Center), claiming they´d offer support for new agricultural ventures, pisco included. They travelled to the distillery and told Marco that it had ample production capacity that was just waiting to be utilised again. The distillery had two stills, of 900L and 1,100 L capacity, respectively. Marco decided to give it a shot and name the new bodega Hijo del Sol, for obvious reasons. He consults reknown oenologists and soon produces excellent pisco that speaks for itself. He begins to participate in contests and earns such quantity of medals that people begin to whisper "Who the hell is that new guy with all his medals?!". A producer who´s been in the pisco industry for a long time then pulls Marco over and tells him "Now try to sell".
You see, making a great pisco isn´t, unfortunately, correlated with actually being able to sell it on the market. So I ask Marco:
- "What about you, do you make a living off pisco?" He sights.
-"I wish, but no, I work in PVC tube production in Lima. Today, it´s hard to make a living off pisco. I wish I could, but truth is, the market is tough. You get into retail, and you´re david fighting goliath- huge companies producing pisco for absurd prices. It just doesn´t add up."
What makes Marco most proud is his pisco production
Back in his grandfather´s time, things were tougher. I mean, you had one bloody phone booth to connect to Lima. The state of the art Panamericana Sur highway that today connects Lunahuaná to Lima in a heartbeat didn´t exist. Marco tells me that his grandfather would distribute pisco on the back of mules all the way up to Huancayo, over 250km uphill on narrow Andes mountain roads! Yet they lived off their vineyards, living in the countryside. Marco adds: - "I feel much better here. You have simple pleasures, like that of getting awoken to the sound of birds and of the river flowing. I have two daughters and I´d love for them to continue with the distillery, but truth is the city has a gravitational force that is hard to escape."
TRUTH IS THE CITY HAS A GRAVITATIONAL FORCE THAT IS HARD TO ESCAPE
MARCO MARTINEZ GREEN
Lunahuaná benefits from a climate in which the sun shines more than 300 days per year.
The issue, according to Marco, is the fact that people today are getting bombarded with advertisements and availability of large pisco brands, where muscle power is defined by the advertising budget and the discounts they´re able to give to retail. Small distilleries are de facto, left out, unable to compete on such terms.
- Products that get good shelf rotation go for about 25-35 soles (around 8.5 USD). Nobody buys a 50 soles (15 USD) product...
Still Marco wishes to eventually escape the city´s gravitational force and live amidst the tranquility of the sound of the Cañete river flowing and the spectacular view of the mountains facing the distillery. As I soak in the sun in complete silence only interrupted by the sound of birds, I can´t help but to agree with him. He hopes to build a restaurant and a few bungalows. I´ll be first to book a room the day it happens.
The Hijo del Sol Distillery is located on the banks of the Cañete river, overlooking rocky- almost surreal looking mountains.
Maximo Sanchez, production manager kindly re-assembled the still for me to witness. Outside of production period, it´s disassembled. He´s rolling the "Capitel", which connects the boiler to the condenser.