Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Chilean Pisco (4)

Distilled Spirits – Brandy – Chilean Pisco (4)

In 1935, Deputy Gabriel González Videla defended the importation of Chilean pisco to the United States, challenging the Peruvian government’s claim of exclusive rights to the name “pisco” for the Pisco region in Peru. González Videla introduced a bill to name the town of La Unión in the Elqui Valley “Pisco Elqui.”

This project was quickly approved through Law 5798, which allowed Chilean pisco to be considered “native” and to be marketed worldwide without legal difficulties. In the same year, Law 5841 expanded the pisco region to include the territory of the Monte Patria commune in the Coquimbo province.

In 1938, the “Sociedad Productores de Elqui” was created in Paihuano, a small association of farmers in the Elqui Valley. In 1939, it transformed into the “Sociedad Productores de Elqui, Cooperativa Agrícola Pisquera y Vitivinícola Limitada” and obtained legal status in February 1939.

In 1943, Decree 3355 from the Ministry of Finance reserved the name “pisco” for distilled brandies made from grapes produced in the pisco region. This decree also established quality requirements, such as the approval of stills used by the General Directorate of Internal Revenue.

In 1953, Law 11256 consolidated the regulations regarding the denomination of “pisco” and expanded the pisco region to several departments. It also prohibited the use of the name “pisco” for beverages not exclusively made with distilled grapes from these regions. The law maintained tax reductions in favor of pisco but only for pisco cooperatives located within the pisco region.

In 1962, Oreste Plath mentioned that the pisco currently known as such was called “Aguardiente de Pisco” due to its Peruvian origin. However, some vineyards in northern Chile produced high-quality grapes, and Huasco and Elqui produced brandies that were called “Pisco del Huasco” or “Pisco de Elqui.” In 1963, the Chilean pisco region was expanded to include additional valleys and sectors, and the varieties of pisco grapes were established through decrees.

In 1964, the decree was modified to include the valleys and sectors omitted in the previously mentioned departments. In the same year, the “Sociedad Productores de Elqui, Cooperativa Agrícola Pisquera y Vitivinícola Limitada” changed its name to Cooperativa Agrícola Pisquera Elqui Limitada (CAPEL), and the “Pisco Capel” brand was commercially introduced.

In 1980, the Pisquera Association of Chile (APICH) was created, the first formal guild organization in the industry. However, its activity started to decline after about two decades.

In 1985, Law 18455 established that the denomination “pisco” was reserved for the brandy produced and bottled in regions III and IV of the country. It had to be made by distilling genuine potable wine from specific grape varieties grown in these regions.

In the late 1990s, the CAPEL and Control Pisquero cooperatives considered merging, but the merger did not take place, despite being approved by the Central Preventive Commission, the antitrust authority at the time.

In 2003, the Pisco Producers Association (APP-AG or Pisco Chile AG) was founded, representing the grape growers, winemakers, distillers, and bottlers in the Chilean pisco industry.

In 2005, Cervecerías Unidas (CCU) and the Control Pisquero Cooperative of Elqui and Limarí Limited established a strategic alliance under the name of Compañía Pisquera de Chile. They became one of the main players in the pisco industry in Chile. Previously, CCU had attempted to partner with CAPEL, but an agreement was not reached.

In the same year, Viña Santa Rita and the Compañía Pisquera de Chile made offers to CAPEL to create a closed joint-stock company and transfer the assets related to pisco. However, CAPEL decided to continue its operations under its traditional business model.

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