Back in 2009, our company's founders, Brian Horsley and Dan Pearson, worked with the USDA genetics lab in Maryland to test hundreds of cacao trees in a remote part of the northern Peruvian jungle called the district of Huarango.
The USDA requested random samples from trees throughout the huge canyon where Huarango is located. All trees tested at least 98% pure Nacional, which was astounding because pure Nacional was thought to have been entirely wiped out by disease in the early 1900's. Nacional was assumed to be completely extinct. Prior to that, Nacional was considered one of the finest flavored cacaos in the world.
The 4th sample out of 20 taken from the farm of Don Fortunato Colala tested 100% pure Nacional. It is the purest expression of the Nacional variety ever tested. To preserve the unique genetics of the "Mother Tree", we've established a clone garden where we've cloned this tree thousands of times.
If other farmers want to participate in our project, they can go to the nursery and take mother tree clones back to plant on their own farms. Participating in our project and selling cacao to our company means receiving around 10x FairTrade premiums for cacao.
This where the name our chocolate, Fortunato No. 4, comes from.
This page features some wonderful pictures of Don Fortunato, his family, his farm, and what it looks like cutting open cacao with machetes on harvest day.