My people are on the move. Cachaça tourism... nice. This was first published here. Check it out.
Cachaça Day in Brazil
When the first sugarcane plants were introduced in Brazil by Portuguese colonizers in the early 16th century, brought from Madeira Island, the creation of a genuinely Brazilian drink would soon follow.
Yet, though the origins of cachaça date back to the Sugarcane Cycle (16th to 18th century) and manufacturing processes taking place at the oldest engenhos, or sugarcane plantations and mills; though its production is intrinsically intertwined with Brazil history and the formation of a national identity, cachaça tourism has only recently begun to take shape as a trend in Brazil travel.
The potential for development is enormous - according to IBRAC, the Brazilian Cachaça Institute (www.ibrac.net), Brazil has 40,000 cachaça producers, 99% of them micro-companies. Many of those are located in the same regions where African and Brazil-born slaves first distilled the drink at sugar mills - and developed a product which, tragically, would be used in triangular trade.
A deeper contact with Brazil's past, particularly its black history, and journeys through scenic destinations, such as Paraty, the Paraiba River Valley or the colonial towns of Minas Gerais, are some of the pluses of cachaça tourism besides the discovery of the drink's variegated flavors and textures.
Superb regional culinary is often part of the experience; some of the distilleries are on farms which also have restaurants, and most cachaçarias specialize in local dishes as well.
In view of the importance of cachaça in Brazil culture and economy - for example, in the generation of 600,000 jobs and exports to over 50 countries - IBRAC initiated a campaign to make September 13 National Cachaça Day. A bill sponsored by a Santa Catarina representative awaits voting in the Chamber of Deputies.
September 13 was chosen because on that day in 1661, an uprising put an end to a Portuguese royal decree which prohibited the production of the drink in the colony.