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Pisco is the national spirit of Chile, a young, clear or aged grape brandy. In the mid 16th Century the Spanish conquistadors planted the first grape vines in the region for the production of wines and spirits. It is supposed that the first Pisco type drink was developed by the Spanish settlers as an alternative to imported alcoholic drinks and to provide something to which they were more accustomed than the local spirit. In Chile, vine cultivation can be traced back to the founding of the city of La Serena in 1544, with harvests known to have taken place in the region of the Elqui Valley from 1551. To this day, this long narrow valley through the Andes is still home to the production of the finest Chilean Pisco. Capel, nowadays the largest Pisco producing company in Chile, was created in 1938 as "Sociedad de Productores de Elqui" by a group of small distilleries located in the Elqui Valley, who joined together to begin marketing and distributing the distillate of their grapes. In 1939, the initial group of distilleries became what it is today: a solid Cooperative made up of approximately 1500 associates of whom 1300 are winegrowers with 6000 hectares of vines for Pisco production.