Women In The Tequila Industry: Ana Valenzuela by M.A. “Mike” Morales

We continue our Women In The Tequila Industry series with arguably the most recognizable Tequila Boss Lady in the business–

Dr. Ana Valenzuela.

Apart from her many accomplishments (briefly summarized in our article, Tequila Boss Ladies), Ana is also the founder of Signo Tequila, a non-profit organization established in 2007 and dedicated to educating the public about tequila, agave conservation and Mexican cultural  products.

Encompassing nearly 20 years of her personal research, Signo Tequila encourages agave plant conservation projects in Mexico and sustainable agricultural training.  Blue agave genetic research and resources are the most important projects in development with the aid of participating agave farmers in Mexico.

In sharp contrast to Ana Maria Romero Mena, and similar to Cecilia Norman, Dr. Valenzuela pulls no punches when it comes to voicing her opinions about her concerns on the Tequila Industry.

 

[Editor's note:  For the convenience of our interviewee and our Spanish speaking audience, this article is in both English and Spanish.]

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TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

(¿Cómo describiría sus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en una industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

AV:  My experiences in the industry have been favorable [enough] to spur me onto the challenge.  This has helped me to have great dedication, discipline and concentration in my scientific work, in my career and in the advances I’ve obtained in the conservation of the genetic resources of blue agave, my greatest dream that I have yet to realize.

The majority of the agriculturalists [agave growers] have been my greatest allies.  The misogynistic attitudes are probably more observed in middle and upper levels of tequila organizations with a large lag [gap] like modern organizations in which women are treated equally.  No doubt, other industries in different sectors of Mexico and in other countries are inequitable [unfair].  The Tequila Industry isn’t the only one with this unfavorable characteristic.

La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)

La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)

(Mis experiencias en la industria han sido favorables para incitarme al reto.  Eso me ha ayudado a tener una gran dedicación, disciplina y concentración en mi trabajo científico, en mi carrera y en los avances que he obtenido en la conservación de recursos genéticos de agaves azules, mi gran sueño a realizar.

(La mayoría de los agricultores han sido mis grandes aliados.  Las actitudes misóginas probablemente se observan entre los mandos altos e intermedios de los organismos del tequila, con un gran rezago como organizaciones modernas en las que se traten igualitariamente a las mujeres.  Sin duda otras industrias en otros sectores de México y en otros países son inequitativos, no solamente la Industria del Tequila tiene esta característica desfavorable.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

(¿Cómo han sido capaces de cambiar las cosas dentro de su industria?)

AV:  My work with agaves is my religion, my diversion [enjoyment] and my science.  The first book of blue agave and its agriculture, as well as the knowledge [awareness] of agaves tequileros, among others, are my contributions that have yet to change many things.  In the near future, the great change to promote will be the planting of my hybrids of the blue agave variants that will change the negative history of genetic erosion.  This change has required more than 20 years of constant work.

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M.A. “Mike” Morales is the CEO of Tequila Aficionado Media and America’s premier tequila journalist, blogging and reporting exclusively on the trends, producers, insiders, and hottest brands in the tequila industry today.