Apu Winery is perched on a rugged Andean mountainside and it's vines cascading toward the agricultural valley that sits below. Their plantings extend as high as 3,300 meters above sea level (10,826 feet), equivalent to two Denvers, and making Apu the highest altitude winery and vineyards in the world.
Coincidentally, in the 16th century some of the first wines in Peru were produced in Marcahuasi, very nearby to what is now Apu. However, the revival of the nearly 500-year-old winemaking tradition in the area has been anything but a cakewalk for Fernando Lattini and his partner Meg McFarland.
I met the pair in Lima in 2015 pretty much upon arriving to Peru. As I was leaving Portland and setting off to roll the dice on a new life in South America, it was suggested that I reach out to PiscoLogía, they said the owner was an American and living in Peru. Over Maracuya Sours, Meg and I met and we were shocked to learn that we were both from Spokane, Washington, an unhinged coincidence. Her and Fernando took me out to visit the bodega where her Pisco is made, I befriended her family, and even made cocktails at their dinner parties, though eventually we would all skip out of Lima to pursue other projects. Meg and Fernando moved their family out to live off the grid, to tend to their vines and to create Apu Winery.
Determined to fulfil a life-long dream of establishing a vineyard, Fernando scoured the Andes for years before stumbling upon Curahuasi, located in the state just west of Cusco, Apurimac. In the small town he encountered a lush microclimate paired with an incredible thermal amplitude and limestone soils (considered among the most desirable in the world), together forming the perfect viticultural conditions that he had been in search of.
In 2011, dense brush was cleared from the precipitous slope and Fernando’s first vines were planted. However, just before his first harvest was due, Fernando’s dream came to a halt when a devastating fire and a fungus decimated the entire vineyard. Even more tenacious than when he started, he didn’t waver in his dedication to making a high-altitude wine and in 2014, he imported more vines from France, and completed the process all over again.
In October of 2017, Fernando and Meg successfully harvested their first runs of Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their project is in a constant process of experimentation and growth, with plans to acquire more land and to import more grape varietals to fill it with. The pair is currently constructing an off-the-grid, gravity-flow winery and have also completed two guest rooms with the hope of accommodating oenophiles from around the world.
In Peru, Apus are the large mountain peaks considered by Andean people to be gods and protectors. The winery sits in the midst of a commanding mountain range and front faces the snow-clad peak, Apu Padreyoc, also a glacier. Paying homage to the mountain gods through it’s naming and it’s constitution to coexist in harmony and with a deep respect for the land, Apu Winery reigns supreme.