Continuing with the arguments given for Peru’s claim to the name Pisco, here we continue by taking a look at the Pisco Valley.
In the next installment, we’ll look at the history of the port itself.
By 1620, the Pisco valley was already known for its vineyards (its vines were imported by the Marqués Francisco de Caravantes, in the XVI century from the Canary Islands), its sugar, grain, corn and wheat mills as well as its fruits, melons, pomegranates, quince and figs, aside from its fish and turtles from the sea and the shrimp from the river.
The most important industry was, however, the production of wines. It is well known that the amount of containers filled was well over 310,000 per year.
The indigenous population was predominant. The second place was held by black population (with more than 10,000), and third the Spanish "chacrareros" (farmers), or rather, "señores de viñas" (gentlemen of the vineyards). It was said that the alter were "many very powerful, and in each hacienda they had a village of blacks for the benefit of the vineyards, and it should be noted that each negro cost at least 500 pesos and up to 600 if he is of good breeding or disposition".
The entire valley was cultivated by irrigation, since it never rained, and in order to irrigate it there were "large channels" from the times of the gentry. The Spanish took great care of maintaining, expanding and dividing these channels. The vineyards were very fertile and they were renowned because "that one of these vines gives more grapes than 6 from Spain". This was because the Pisco vines were "high" and "big", but they also had “good temperament" or climate and the land was considered to be "a promising land for everything".
Neighboring the Pisco Valley is the Villacurí desert, where "there are other types of vineyards very different from those in reference, in that they yield over 5, 000 containers of wine". These vineyards were in the "hoyas" (hollows) which the Indians called macas, huge and deep hollows in the sand which could be used to hide an army (like what the rebel Francisco Hernández Giróin did in 1554).
There, in the moist soil at the bottom, the native workers, called yanaconas, would plant what in this case were called "macaconas", and the fertile soil would be fed by the waters from the subterranean currents which were frequent while the rivers of Pisco and Ica were dry. The hollows were fertilized with the leaves from the Algarrobo (Carob) tree, and that is how they got abundant grape harvests which ended up as the prized quantities of wine.
Historia del Pisco en Ica