• Apu Winery

  • Apu Winery

Apu is a divine-inspired winery.

I am an economist with an MBA and my career was in finance, but I always felt called by the world of wine. I first studied to be a sommelier. During that exploration, I realized that I felt an ethereal connection with wine. Whenever I drank it, I felt elevated to a higher spiritual level. These experiences made me more conscious of divine manifestations and fueled my desire to start a vineyard.

I chose the name Apu for two reasons. First, because it means mountain in Quechua. My vineyards are on a mountain with a slope of more than 30 degrees. When you stand among the rows of vines at these significant heights, you feel like you are on top of the world. I wanted to portray that feeling through the name of my wine.

The Incas also felt that deep connection with the majestic Andean peaks. Their admiration was so great that the mountains (Apus in Quechua) were sacred divinities to whom they prayed for the welfare of their entire empire. The apus were forces that guided, protected and ensured fruitful harvests. Quechua-speakers still pray to the Apus today, proof that they are an integral part of their spirituality, a spirituality that I feel deeply connected to here.

I never intended to come to Curahuasi, but a divine hand led me to the wonderful slopes of Tarales-Pisonaypata, at 2850 meters above sea level. Every step I took, I came across invaluable information that helped lay the foundation for my dream. First I discovered that some of the first wine grapes were planted in this area during the expansion of grapevines in Peru between 1540-1550. Although the Spanish were responsible for bringing the first grapevines to South America, it was the indigenous people, those inspired by the Apus, whose agricultural and engineering expertise, made viticulture possible in Peru.

Initially I did not see the incredible potential of my land. However, one day I woke up with the inspiration that this was the ideal place. I analyzed the soils, temperature and climate and discovered that it had the perfect terroir to make a high quality wine. I wasn't aware at the time, but in hindsight, I now see that someone or something from beyond was guiding me and helping me formulate my vision for this project.

Because of that awakening, my grapes are now thriving in the Curahuasi Valley, a privileged place for growing plants due to its climate and the physical conditions. Apu reflects the climate of the Andes, where rivers run to the Atlantic at the edge of the majestic Amazon rainforest. The drastic thermal amplitude and its deep calcareous soils make it possible to produce complex fruit.

10 years after planting the first vine, I managed to make an impressive, balanced wine with the potential to evolve many years in barrels. The first vintage opened the doors to the wonderful world of high-end wines.

To date, we have produced fragrant Sauvignon Blancs and Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon with enough potential to accompany the diverse cuisine of Peru. The 2021 vintage will be released in July 2022 and will be accompanied by 2 highly-renowned newcomers: Syrah and Tannat, 2 varieties that I planted based on advice that now seems too coincidental to be from this world.

A divine guidance inspires me every day when I wake up on this mountain. Because of it, confident that soon Apu will be among the best high altitude wines in the world.

-Fernando Gonzales Lattini

Founder, Apu Winery

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

In “Start Planning for the Future”, Chris Boiling discusses the effects of climate change on many traditional wine regions. In this blog, we will demonstrate how several aspects of Boiling's investigation apply to Apu Winery.

Boiling suggests higher altitudes could provide new opportunities in the face of climate change. We are the first to grow grapes and produce wine at these altitudes in the Peruvian Andes. The combination of altitude, limestone soils, rainfall, climate, and thermal amplitude make this an ideal place for new vineyards. We hope other wine producers address the urgency of climate change by investing in the Peruvian Andes.

Warming temperatures have also proven to be detrimental to grapes by harming "grape composition, including color, taste and aroma" (Boiling). According to a study conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by a more than 1° Celsius (2° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975 (World). While this rate of change is undoubtedly detrimental and alarming, we view it as a double-edged sword. Growing grapes on these steep slopes has been made possible because of the warming temperatures. We have warm days and cool nights here, the typical climate at this altitude in the Peruvian Andes.

It was not a coincidence that our land was a dense forest when we bought it; many locals have claimed that the plot was too cold for crops in the past. It is clear that because temperatures have raised at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade since 1975 (World), our vines are now thriving on these once-inhospitable slopes.

Another issue addressed by Boiling is drought. This is currently not a concern at Apu Winery. Because of the heavy rains during rainy season, our plants receive plenty of water. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, precipitation in the eastern slopes of the central Andes in Peru ranges from 500-2000mm annually.

Despite this abundance, we recognize the importance of protecting this precious resource and have invested significantly in infrastructure, using a system of reservoirs, irrigation and drips to conserve rainwater. In addition, we teach conservation to the community and look to the past for answers on how to conserve and maximize our water supply (read this blog post for more information).

Furthermore, during dry season, typically from March through August, we can tap a seemingly endless supply of glacial runoff. However, the detrimental impact of melting glaciers in Peru has compelled us to explore options for dry farming. As Boiling proves, this is a viable option because vineyards can use 50% of the irrigation water normally used by grape crops without compromising flavor, color and sugar content.

Boiling also mentions that vintners can offset the effects of climate change by using rootstocks such as 140 Ruggeri, 110 Richter, and M4 because they are drought-resistant and tolerant to water stress. We opted for Fercal rootstock. In addition to being one of the most adequate for limestone soils, the Fercal rootstock is also resistant to chlorosis, downy mildew and anthracnosis, which has helped us combat diseases during rainy season and thus, successfully grow grapes in this new region.

Coincidentally, our rootstock choice has proven to be effective in offsetting the effects of climate change because it delays the ripening of grapes. A study completed by vinegrowers in Alsace, France, demonstrated that Fercal rootstocks delay ripening one week longer than SO4 and up to 2 weeks later than 3309 (Wine Growers).

Accelerated ripening has become an issue with rising temperatures. It is well known that grapes that ripen too quickly produce a less desirable wine with more alcohol, a duller color and a taste like jam or cooked fruit. By delaying this process, grapes ripen in cooler conditions and develop the necessary balance of sugar, color, and tannins.

Finally, we changed our pruning techniques to adapt to the effects of global warming, another point addressed in "Start Planning for the Future". We trained our plants to follow the schedule of the northern hemisphere by pruning in January and harvesting in September. By removing growth from the vines before rainy season, we avoid fungi caused by moisture and humidity. This was a hard lesson to learn after fungi killed all our original vines, forcing us to replant our vineyards in 2014.

In summary, while Apu's vineyards exist because of warming caused by climate change, we are well-aware of the necessity to plan for the future. In the end, we hope our efforts ensure centuries of sustainable grape-growing on these slopes and conservation of Earth's most precious resources.

Works Consulted:

Boiling, Chris. “Start Planning for the Future.” IWC, 19 Nov. 2021, https://www.internationalwinechallenge.com/Canopy-Articles/start-planning-for-the-future.html?utm_source=canopy_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=02-11-2021.

Martínez de Toda, F. “Global Warming Allows Two Grape Crops a Year, with about Two Months Apart in Ripening Dates and with Very Different Grape Composition.” Vitis, vol. 60, 2021, pp. 119–124., https://doi.org/10.5073/vitis.2021.60.119-124.

Riveros Salcedo, Juan Carlos. “Eastern South America: Eastern Slopes of the Central Andes in Peru.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/nt0153.

Rootstocks for Grafted Vines, https://www.winegrowers.info/rootstocks/home.htm.

“Slowing down Grape Ripening Can Improve Fruit Quality for Winemaking.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 30 June 2021, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210630091404.htm.

“World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal.” World Bank Group, https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/peru/climate-data-historical.

“World of Change: Global Temperatures.” NASA, NASA, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/global-temperatures.