Everything You Need to Know about Wine Tasting in Peru’s Ica Wine Region
Located on the sun-drenched coast of Peru, Ica is the country’s foremost wine region. Known for its dry, desert-like climate and fertile soils, Ica offers optimal conditions for cultivating a range of grape varieties. From its origins during Spanish colonial times to its present-day standing, Ica’s winemaking tradition has evolved to become an integral part of Peru’s cultural fabric. Ica’s wines and the renowned Peruvian Pisco are not merely products of the region; they represent its rich history, resilient spirit, and continuous innovation.
With tips from local experts and insights into Ica’s best wineries, this guide will help ensure #Winetravelers are well-prepared to explore Ica’s wine scene with confidence. Let’s dive in, and discover all that Ica has to offer to wine enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike.
Quick Tips for Wine Tasting in Ica
Fly into the Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima. Check current flight prices here. From Lima, Ica is approximately 200 miles to the southeast. We recommend renting a car through Kayak ahead of time for flexibility and to digest the coastal views along the way.
If it’s your first time visiting Peru or you simply prefer using a private transfer, book one with Plan Travel Peru to get to Ica.
Once in Ica, especially in Huacachina, you’ll also find that taxis and mototaxis (small rickshaw-like vehicles) are prevalent, offering an easy way to navigate around and to the local wineries if you don’t rent a car. Additionally, some wineries in the region offer transportation as part of their tours, providing pick-up and drop-off services from your accommodation in Ica.
For a stay that combines luxury, local culture, and the region’s best offerings, we highly recommend booking accommodations on a vineyard or winery resort. Hotel Viñas Queirolo is an ideal example, standing as Peru’s only hotel located directly within a working vineyard.
The property contains over 500 hectares vineyards in the Ica valley, located at the foothills of the rising Andes. These vineyards contribute to the Santiago Queirolo Winery, particularly to their acclaimed Intipalka line.
The hotel features a range of amenities for #Winetravelers. The opportunity to learn about wine is complemented by serene relaxation opportunities, such as a poolside pisco cocktail or indulging in local cuisine at their restaurant. You can also hop on a bike and ride around the vineyards. The desert oasis Huacachina is also close by, providing easy access to fun experiences like dune buggy rides and sandboarding in the desert.
Alternatively, you can arrange for a glamping experience in the Huacachina desert with Huacachina Tours.
Go on a sandboarding or sand-ski tour in the desert with Dito Sand xSports
Take an all-inclusive group tour of Ica, including a visit to Haucachina, dune buggies, sandboarding and visit local wineries with Sam Travel Experiences
Rent your own private dune buggy and explore the desert near Haucachina with iPeruano
Go on a guided wine and pisco tasting experience to both Caravedo and Tacama wineries in Ica with Buganvilla Tours
Best Wineries to Visit in Ica
Embarking on the Ica Wine Route is an exciting journey, full of sensory delights, learning experiences and unexpected outdoor activities. This route is peppered with both age-old, historic vineyards and contemporary, forward-thinking wineries, each contributing a unique verse to Ica’s wine narrative. As we chart this path, we’ll highlight five standout Ica wineries that encapsulate the region’s diversity and dynamism. We will also delve into practical tips to optimize your visit, and share advice on how to elevate your wine tasting experience. Strap in (literally, if you decide to go for a dune buggy ride nearby), for an unforgettable exploration of Ica’s viticultural wonderland.
Take a look at our recent Instagram reel for a quick preview of the kind of scenery and experiences you can expect in Ica.
Cam. Real 390, Ica 11004, Peru
As the oldest winery in all of South America, Tacama exudes a rich history from the moment you step foot on its grounds. With tours that guide you through vineyards and age-old cellars, Tacama takes you on a journey back in time. Their tastings offer a delightful range of wines and piscos, providing a taste of tradition passed down through generations. Tacama also offers a unique on-site gastronomic experience in their classy restaurant, providing a delightful blend of local cuisine and their exquisite wines.
Bodega El Catador
Fundo Tres Esquinas # 102, Ica 11000, Peru
This winery is a shining example of a family business done right. Their rustic charm makes for an inviting and intimate setting where you can feel the love poured into every bottle. El Catador combines traditional and innovative winemaking methods to create a memorable tasting experience. The guided tours provide insights into their unique processes and end with a curated selection of their best wines.
Hotel Viñas Queirolo
Km 11 de la carretera a San José de los Molinos, Ica, Peru
More than just a winery, Queirolo offers a complete escape in their resort-style hotel. You can relax in comfortable accommodations, enjoy local cuisine in their in-house restaurant, and take a refreshing dip in the pool. Of course, their true star is the wine. The winery tour reveals their innovative viticulture practices, and sit down tastings in a stunning courtyard. The winery’s specialty is creating memorable moments, whether through a romantic dinner in the vineyard or a celebratory toast in their wine bar by the pool.
Altura del Km 291 de la Panamericana Sur, poblado de Guadalupe., Cam. de Reyes, Peru
Located in Ica, Caravedo Winery, officially known as Hacienda La Caravedo, is an essential destination for anyone seeking to understand the history and tradition of Peruvian spirits. This storied property holds the title of the oldest distillery in the Americas, with operations dating back to 1684.
Caravedo sits on an expansive 90-hectare estate, with each part meticulously maintained to respect both its historic significance and its active role in the production of exceptional Peruvian pisco. The vineyards thrive in the desert climate, fostering the growth of eight grape varieties including Quebranta, Torontel, and Italia.
A visit to Caravedo Winery isn’t just a tour—it’s a journey through time. From the centuries-old ‘Casona’, or manor house, to the traditional ‘Falconeria’ where the Peruvian practice of falconry is kept alive, every corner of the estate tells a story.
Caravedo is renowned for its dedication to quality and tradition, producing its highly-acclaimed Pisco Portón and Pisco Caravedo exclusively from estate-grown grapes. This commitment is recognized on a global scale, as Caravedo’s piscos have received numerous international awards.
RECOMMENDED: Book a Guided Tour that Includes a Visit to Caravedo
Bodega Tres Generaciones
Fundo Tres Esquinas Subtanjalla, Carr. Jorge Chavez 152, Ica 11000, Peru
As Ica’s first organic winery, Bodega Tres Generaciones is a testament to sustainable winemaking. Their commitment to eco-friendly practices extends beyond the vineyard to their entire operation. A visit to this winery is as educational as it is enjoyable, offering insights into organic viticulture and tastings of their boutique wines that taste of Ica’s terroir and Tres Generaciones’ dedication to preserving it.
Best Ica Wine Tours
A guided wine tour in Ica provides a practical and enriching way to experience this renowned wine region. With transportation and logistics often taken care of, you’re free to immerse yourself in the captivating stories and stunning landscapes that make Ica’s wine culture so unique. These tours range from walking through the hallowed cellars of Tacama, to engaging in adrenaline-filled dune buggy rides and sandboarding adventures, with the setting sun as a spectacular backdrop.
Winery and Pisco Distillery Tour with Sam Travel Experiences
Experience the rich tradition of Ica’s wineries on this guided tour. Venture into some of South America’s oldest wineries and an artisanal establishment to learn about the wine and Pisco production process. Enjoy tastings of these distinctive beverages right from their source.
This tour includes round-trip transportation from your hotel in Ica or Huacachina, and multiple tour times for your convenience. With small group sizes, expect personal attention from your guide.
Reserve your spot today as these do tend to sell out.
Wine, Pisco and Dune Buggy Experience
Elevate your Ica experience by blending wine tasting with thrilling outdoor experiences. On this meticulously planned tour, you’ll not only visit a local winery and a Pisco distillery, but you’ll also get a kick of adrenaline as you glide over Huacachina’s majestic sand dunes on a dune buggy and try your hand at sandboarding.
With your guide at the helm, you’re free to indulge in the breathtaking scenery. The tour, which keeps group sizes small for a more personalized experience, includes convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off, ensuring a seamless and exhilarating Peruvian adventure. Book the tour here.
Not sold on a dune buggy ride? Here’s a sample of one of our recent experiences:
Pisco Route: La Caravedo, Tacama and Nietto Vineyard
This tour, led by guides with Peru Your Trip, takes you to some of the most exclusive and historic distilleries in South America, where you’ll gain deep insights into the history of Peru’s national drink and the origin of its name. For just $66.00, the tour package includes transport in an air-conditioned vehicle, guided visits to each cellar, welcome beverages at La Caravedo vineyard, and pick-up service from your accommodation.
Go Glamping in Huacachina Desert
Winetravelers seeking a more sophisticated adventure in the Huacachina desert oasis should consider this unique glamping experience. It offers all the exciting activities of regular desert tours, such as sandboarding and dune buggy rides, while also allowing you to spend the night in a roomy tent among the dunes.
Experience hotel-like comforts in the mesmerizing desert landscape. Enjoy the enchanting desert sunset, unparalleled views of stars with minimal light pollution, and included meals and cocktails, making this a truly unforgettable, all-inclusive desert escapade.
Nazca Lines and Dune Buggy (Huacachina) from Ica
We love working with Sam Travel Experiences because their customer service is not only top-notch, but they also offer some really unique blended experiences. This full-day tour takes you on an aerial adventure over the Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring massive ancient geoglyphs etched into the desert soil. From there, the journey moves to the Huacachina Oasis, where you can embrace the thrill of dune buggy rides and sandboarding. With round-trip transfers from your Ica hotel included and small group sizes ensuring personalized attention, this tour offers an exciting, well-rounded exploration of Peru’s desert wonders.
What is Pisco?
Pisco is a type of brandy that is made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof liquor. Named after the Peruvian port of Pisco, from where it was first shipped out during colonial times, this spirit is a cornerstone of the nation’s culinary identity. Pisco is produced only in specific regions of Peru and Chile (there is fierce debate between the two countries as to who actually “owns” Pisco) and it’s often savored neat or used as a base for cocktails, with the most famous one being the Pisco Sour.
The production of Pisco involves several grape varieties, which are broadly classified into aromatic and non-aromatic types. The aromatic types include Italia, Moscatel, Torontel, and Albilla. Non-aromatic types consist of Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Uvina, and Mollar. Among these, Quebranta, a non-aromatic grape variety, is the most commonly used in Peru for Pisco production due to its robustness and resistance to diseases. Each grape variety imparts a unique flavor and character to the Pisco, making this spirit a diverse and versatile component in the world of spirits.
Wine Grape Varieties Produced in Ica
Despite the region’s arid, desert-like climate, the soils are particularly fertile due to the alluvial deposits from the Andes. These alluvial soils, composed of sand, silt, and clay, are rich in minerals that contribute to the growth of high-quality vines.
However, it’s important to note that ‘fertile’ in the context of winemaking doesn’t necessarily mean lush and verdant. For our purposes today, it refers to the soil’s ability to provide just enough nutrients to stress the vines, which is actually desirable in viticulture. Stressed vines tend to produce fewer but more flavorful grapes, as the plants focus their energy on fruit production rather than vegetation growth.
Adding to this, Ica’s unique combination of plentiful sunshine, little rainfall, and significant temperature variations between day and night, known as diurnal range, make it an ideal region for growing a variety of wine grapes.
Peru has become a fascinating player in the global wine industry and is still very much up-and-coming, despite hosting the oldest winery in South America. While the list below predominantly features internationally renowned grape varieties, it’s worth noting that this is far from the full spectrum of Peru’s viticulture. The Peruvian wine scene also includes a number of lesser-known but equally intriguing grapes, such as the aromatic Petit Verdot and the deep, dark Tannat.
In the Ica region, the Cabernet Sauvignon variety is cultivated under the hot sun, allowing for optimal ripening. The resulting wines are complex and rich with cassis and dark cherry notes, balanced by a distinctive earthiness that is uniquely Peruvian. The intense sunshine and cooling coastal breezes lend these wines a structured tannin profile that distinguishes them from their counterparts in other wine regions.
The Ica region’s cool nights and coastal influence are particularly beneficial for the Sauvignon Blanc grape, allowing it to maintain its acidity while developing a rich, tropical fruit character. The Peruvian interpretation of this variety often exhibits a uniquely expressive minerality, reflecting the desert terroir of the Ica region.
While most associate Malbec with Argentina, the variety also thrives in Peru’s Ica region, where the high altitude and stark temperature differences between day and night allow the grapes to develop a deep color and intense flavor. The Ica Malbec is known for its soft tannins, ripe red fruit flavors, and a hint of Peruvian spice, a departure from its Argentinian cousin’s more robust structure.
In Ica, Chardonnay vines bask under the bright sun while being cooled by the Pacific breezes, allowing for full maturation and optimal sugar levels. The resulting wines are balanced and rich with tropical fruit and citrus flavors, and often exhibit a subtle saline minerality reflective of the nearby sea. Unlike the heavily oaked styles of some regions, Peruvian Chardonnay is often fermented in stainless steel or used barrels, preserving the grape’s natural flavors.
Syrah finds a comfortable home in Ica’s hot, dry climate and sandy soils. The region’s Syrah wines are renowned for their powerful structure and deep, dark fruit flavors complemented by a characteristic peppery spice. Winemakers in Ica often age their Syrah wines in oak barrels, adding a layer of complexity and an enticing note of sweet spice to these uniquely Peruvian expressions of the grape.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Ica Wine Region
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