• Apu Winery

Updated: Aug 17, 2019


Long-tailed sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii)

This post is about the wild and domesticated animals that we have here at Apu. From ants and lizards to tarantulas and dogs, every animal plays an important role in the ecosystem of our vineyards.


Our domesticated animals create a special dynamic within our family and work environment. Throughout the years, we have rescued 11 animals from the streets of Lima and Curahuasi. We currently have 6 pets. Besides bringing love and joy to our home, our 3 dogs provide security while our 3 cats keep unwanted pests out of our home.


Exotic creatures also frequent our vineyards, many coming from the nearby Amazon rainforest. It is not uncommon to see colorful parrots (Amazona autumnalis), Phoebis butterflies and the long-tailed sylph hummingbird (Aglaiocercus kingii) among the vines. Hairy tarantulas often boldly crawl past us as we work in the vineyard, seemingly unbothered by the presence of humans.



Amazona autumnalis

While most animals are harmless to humans, there are some that eat the leaves and grapes of our vines. The biggest threat to our ripe grapes are the “chihuacos” (Turdus chiguanco) who flock to the Curahuasi Valley to eat ready-to-harvest corn. En route to the corn fields, these pesky birds find a perch and peck away at the flesh of the sugary grapes. Despite anti-bird netting and scare tactics, they still consume least 30% of our grapes every year.


In addition to the chihuacos, there are a few creatures that eat our grape leaves. Taruka deer (Hippocamelus antisensis), crickets and ants can demolish the leaves of an entire plant within hours. We keep out the Andean deer with fencing, but crickets and ants can be more difficult to control. Luckily there are many animals here that depend on those insects for food, such as spiders, lizards and mice. In turn, the lizards, spiders and mice are then eaten by animals higher on the food chain. The Andean fox "culpeo" (Lycalopex culpaeus), falcons and condors are common examples. We are fortunate that there aren’t any other predators in the food chain above the Andean fox and the birds of prey here. Anything larger could pose a danger to our beloved pets.



Lycalopex culpaeus

Despite our ongoing battle with ants, crickets and chihuacos, we realize the important role of every creature that roams, skitters, flits and hovers in our vineyards. The animals within our small ecosystem provide harmony among the vines, allowing nature to run its course and making it possible for us to craft a premium high-altitude wine.

  • Apu Winery

Updated: Aug 18, 2019



Last month we discussed how our calcium-carbonate rich (CaCO3) soils provide innumerable benefits here at Apu Winery. We would like to explore this subject more, focusing on how the pH and nutrients of our limestone soils affect the acidity (and therefore the general flavor and quality) of our Peruvian high-altitude wine.


Our soils have a pH between 7.8 and 8, which means they are moderately alkaline. Alkaline soils, especially calcareous alkaline soils, tend to produce grapes with higher acidity. As Jon Iverson states in "Home Winemaking Step by Step", most grapes should have a pH between 3.2 and 3.4 (35) when picked. With the assistance of our soils, our grapes easily reach the desired pH before harvest. For example, last October, at peak ripeness, our 2018 Sangiovese grapes measured a pH of 3.32. We can thank the crumbly layers of earth that provide a habitat for our roots and vines for this.


Calcareous soils cause acidity in grapes and wine in a couple of ways. First, calcareous soils don’t retain heat and therefore have lower temperatures than other types of soils. Because of this cooler temperature, the grapes ripen more slowly, allowing them to develop perfect ratios of sugar and acidity. Second, calcareous soils are high in calcium but low in other nutrients such as potassium. It has been shown that the combination of low potassium and high calcium produces grapes and wines with optimum acidity (Tablas).


Calcareous soils not only lack potassium, but also tend to lack nitrogen, phosphorous, zinc and iron (Management). We add these nutrients to our drip irrigation system to ensure the plants get what they need to produce healthy, robust grapes for our high altitude wine.


Sources:


Iverson, Jon. Home Winemaking, Step-by-Step: a Guide to Fermenting Wine Grapes. Stonemark Pub. Co., 2009.


“Management of Calcareous Soils.” Calcareous Soils | FAO SOILS PORTAL | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-management/management-of-some-problem-soils/calcareous-soils/en/.


“Why Limestone Matters for Wine Grape Growing.” Tablas Creek Vineyard Blog, 26 May 2010, tablascreek.typepad.com/tablas/2010/05/why-limestone-matters-for-viticulture.html.

  • Apu Winery

Updated: Aug 18, 2019



When people think of wineries and vineyards in South America, Chile and Argentina usually come to mind. In fact, according to statistics released by the Wine Institute in California, out of 63 wine-producing countries, Argentina and Chile were #5 and #6, respectively. While Argentina made 4.72% of the world’s wine in 2015, Chile made 4.54%.


Historically, Peru has not been a top producer or exporter of wine. In the same study by the Wine Institute of California, Peru was #33 of 63 wine-producing countries, making only .25% of the world’s wine. However, since this study was completed in 2015, wine consumption, production and exportation have increased drastically. According to ADEX, the office that oversees exports in Peru, between January and October of 2017, the exportation of Peruvian wine increased by 48%, reaching almost 1,000,000 USD. More than half of those exports were sent to the USA. The UK was second on the list, followed by Germany, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Canada, France and Switzerland. Peru’s largest wineries were responsible for this increase, among them being: Tacama (Tacama), Tabernero (Tabernero & Vittoria), Queirolo (Intipalka & Queirolo), Ocucaje (Ocucaje), Vista Alegre (Vista Alegre & Picasso).


Even more exciting, not only is production increasing, but so is the consumption of wine in Peru. A separate study conducted by the Wine Institute showed that demand for wine in Peru surged more than 17% from 2013 to 2015, one of the highest rates of all the countries on the list.


The parallel between both studies is positive for the entire wine industry here. Now that Peruvians are drinking more wine, they can look to the internal market to satisfy their needs. We hope to see more high-altitude, craft wineries like Apu throughout the Andes to help fulfill consumers' needs in Peru.


While we experience this rapid growth of demand and supply, both producers and discerning consumers should apply uncompromising criteria to protect the quality of all the wine produced in Peru. We believe that by investing the necessary time and resources, exports and demand will increase even more and Peruvian wine can become among the best in the world.



Sources:

Wine Institute https://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/statistics

https://larepublica.pe/economia/1165360-exportacion-de-vino-peruano-crece-en-casi-50

https://gestion.pe/economia/vino-peruano-conquista-15-mercados-internacionales-142447

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