Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Q1There are too many fascinating facets to Marie Sarita Gaytan’s book, Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico.

Gaytan takes the reader on a sweeping journey of Aztec myths and legends, pre-and post colonial occupation; from the Mexican Revolution to Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, all the way up to 2014, the date of the book’s publication.

Written in an academic-style format, complete with footnotes and references, one realizes the scope of Gaytan’s daunting undertaking–

Detailing tequila’s trajectory from a drink just for “country people” to the spirit of a nation.

In every epoch explored, the author pinpoints where tequila (and pulque and mezcal) fit into the overall image of lo mexicano—what Ms. Gaytan refers to as “an idea, a sensibility, and the fiction that there exists a collective, unified Mexican national consciousness. The notion that there is one true way of being Mexican….”

Some of the memorable highlights exposed are:

–Pulque was seen as “associated with native identity and urban unrest” and “made it an unlikely contender to symbolize the modernizing [Mexican] nation.”

–Likewise, mezcal was seen as lacking the “symbolic capital” necessary to represent Mexico.

–Pancho Villa’s reputation as a violent bandit fueled by excessively drinking tequila was actually an image made up by the American Media, most notably, the Los Angeles Times, which arguably may have cost him his life.

–Mexican cinema (1936-1969), and its popular charro icons like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, managed to indelibly imprint “macho” images and gender roles between men and women. Yet, there were a handful of women on screen, as well as on stage and in radio, who at the time successfully pushed the limits of these gender roles.

–The jimador, the Aztec goddess Mayahuel, and even the Virgen de Guadalupe have each been used to “portray Mexico as a simultaneously modern, unified and prestigiously prehistoric,” as well as, “…fostering the perception of a nostalgic indigenous past [that] is crucial for appearing to unite the population under a single—and easily commodified—Mexican identity.”

–Mexican state and federal officials, executives of transnational tequila companies, and the tourism industry help to fashion tequila as “…a vital and vibrant symbol of the nation.”

–Through the use of programs like the Distintivo T and others, individuals are recruited to “demonstrate their commitment not only to tequila but to the nation [of Mexico] itself.”

The most intriguing section of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico, is by far the interviews Ms. Gaytan conducted with several individuals that examined consumers’ drinking traditions on both sides of the border.

Considering the current political climate between the United States and Mexico, and the present uncertainty surrounding NAFTA, the outcomes of these interviews prove to be culturally enlightening.

Here’s a hint…

Take a look at the substantial footnotes and references listed at the end of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico. You are sure to come across several books and published papers that you might feel compelled to investigate yourself.

Among them are several solid resources from Ana Valenzuela Zapata, Sarah Bowen, and Ms. Gaytan herself, who have each been featured on Tequila Aficionado’s Women in The Tequila Industry series.

Our apologies to Ms. Gaytan for being so tardy in insisting that every student of tequila, and lover of Mexico, should include this extremely important book in your personal reference libraries.

Tequila!  Distilling the Spirit of Mexico is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers in both ebook and hardcopy.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4WpErika Vargas Flores has spearheaded Altos Cienega Unidos (NOM 1570) in the village of Rancho Lagunillas, nestled in Atotonilco El Alto, for the past four years.

When upstart flagship brand, El Consuelo, won the coveted 2016 Brands Of Promise(C) award in the Organic category, tequila aficionados everywhere took notice.

Subsequently, we came to discover that this dynamic micro-distillery where El Consuelo is lovingly produced, and that put the world–and our taste buds–on notice, is also managed by this competent young lady.

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wp

Naturally, we had to ask if she would agree to join our gallery of Tequila Boss Ladies.

Here’s what she had to add to our handful of questions about being a woman in the male dominated Tequila Industry.

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

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?)

(¿Cómo describirías tus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wpuna industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

EVF:  It hasn’t been easy, but this is an industry where a woman as much as a man can be capable of carrying out at least 80% of the activities that are implemented for the production of tequila.

The majority of our staff is really made up of women.  In our micro-distillery, the personnel is qualified to perform various duties.

For instance, not only am I the general manager, but I’ve learned to cultivate the yeasts [used in fermentation], and to carry out the distillation and bottling.

Right now, the jobs that belong to the men are the rough ones that at no time can be substituted [performed] by a woman, but are no less important.

Personally, my knowledge and achievements that I’ve obtained with Tequila El Consuelo are recognized by men.  My husband, Pedro Alvarado López, has always motivated and supported me to continue in the industry.

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wp

Associates, who are all men, have confidence in my abilities.  My being a woman hasn’t made a difference in negotiating with Tequila Spirits, LLC, that imports the brand Tequila El Consuelo.

My right hand is Juan Gerardo Hernández Ramírez who also executes a large part of the industry activities.

I realize that the top leadership of the Tequila Industry is male dominated.

(No ha sido fácil, pero es una industria que tanto el hombre como la mujer puede ser capaz para desempeñar por lo menos un 80% de las actividades que se ejecutan para la elaboración del tequila.

(Nuestra plantilla efectivamente la mayor parte es ocupada por las mujeres.

(Es una micro pequeña empresa en la que el personal está capacitado para ejecutar diferentes actividades. Yo por ejemplo además de ser quien dirige he aprendido a crear las levaduras, realizar la destilación y envasado.

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wp

(Ahora sí que las actividades del hombre son los trabajos rudos en los cuales en ningún momento puede ser sustituido por la mujer por lo cual no dejan de ser parte importante.)

(En lo personal mis conocimientos y logros que hasta el momento se han obtenido en Tequila El Consuelo SI son reconocidos por los hombres.  Mi esposo, Pedro Alvarado López, siempre me ha motivado y apoyado a continuar en la Industria.

(Los socios los cuales todos son hombres han confiado en mi capacidad.  Tequila Spirits LLC quien distribuye la Marca de Tequila El Consuelo no han hecho la diferencia en las negociaciones conmigo por el hecho de ser mujer.

(Mi mano derecha es Juan Gerardo Hernández Ramírez quien [también] ejecuta gran parte de las actividades de la Industrias.

(Reconozco que los altos mandos de la Industria Tequilera aun es dominada por los hombres.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

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

EVF:  The tequila consumer gets more demanding every day, rejecting one brand they Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wphave imbibed for years when its quality changes.

As opposed to men, women are more methodical when it comes to repeating the tequila process to conserve its consistency.

(El consumidor del tequila cada vez es más exigente, rechaza una marca que por años ha bebido cuando su calidad cambia. 

(La mujer a diferencia del hombre es más metódica lo que hace que en el proceso de elaboración del tequila conserve siempre las mismas características.)

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

EVF:  That little by little, women attain higher administrative and operational posts without substituting [replacing] men in the rough jobs of the process that requires physical strength.

(Que poco  a poco logren ocupar los altos mando administrativos y operativos, sin sustituir al hombre en el trabajo rudo del proceso de elaboración por la fuerza física que se requiere.)

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4WpTA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

EVF:  The consumer’s mentality that marries them to a particular brand without taking the opportunity to try other tequilas of equal or better quality simply because a brand isn’t recognized in the marketplace.

(La mentalidad del consumidor ya que estos llegan a casarse con una marca sin dar oportunidad de probar otros tequilas de igual o mejor calidad, por el hecho de que la marca no es conocida en el mercado.)

TA:  Do you approve of how tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?

(Esta Ud de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas, hoy en dia?)

EVF:  No because there exists unfair competition, cheap prices and cheaper quality.

(No, porque existe mucha competencia desleal, bajos precios, baja calidad.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

Women In the Tequila Industry: Erika Vargas Flores http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4Wp

EVF:  Well, that it’s an interesting occupation, competitive, and with opportunities for growth, both professional and personal.

(Pues que es un trabajo interesante, competitivo, con oportunidades de crecimiento tanto laboral como personal.)

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry | Anahí Rivera

*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Dia de Los Muertos & Heartland Tour had to be vetted as Brand of Promise Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be on the tour.

Building Casa 1921

Women In The Tequila Industry: Anahí Rivera http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4zZOne of the more prized and beloved tequila brands of the past twenty years has to be Casa 1921.

Following a series of mishaps, poor business deals, and just plain bad luck by the owners of the brand, Anahí Rivera came to work in Texas for Casa 1921.

She was a fresh-faced twenty-something marketing graduate straight out of university in Monterrey, Mexico.

Eleven years later, she is the Brand Manager and partner in the importation company, Casa 1921 LLC.  Anahí has practically single-handedly grown the venerable brand and regained its traction and following in 34 states.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Anahí Rivera http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4zZ

Here, Ms. Rivera also displays what other products she represents in her portfolio, which now includes Tequila Don Pilar.

We were proud to have had Casa 1921’s wildly popular and much sought after La Crema expression on both Tequila Aficionado’s 2015 Dia de los Muertos Tequila And Mezcal Tour, and 2016’s Heartland Tour.

A Tequila Aficionado First

Women In The Tequila Industry: Anahí Rivera http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4zZ

During a casual dinner at the Tequila Aficionado Test Kitchen, we asked Anahí Rivera our standard questions for the Women In The Tequila Industry collection.

And, in a Tequila Aficionado first, we present her videotaped responses to our questions, here, as read off camera by CMO, Lisa Pietsch.

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

TA:  (Bonus Question)–What can Tequila Aficionado do to help consumers understand the value that goes into a bottle of craft tequila?

Hint:  Education is key.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Melly Barajas

SinoMellyWhen Judy Rivera sought to make her own brand of tequila, she was determined to find a master distiller whose views and outlook were similar to hers.  It wasn’t long before she found Carmen Lucia Barajas Cárdenas–“Melly” to her friends–and Sino Tequila was born.

Melly Barajas always intended to be a Tequila Boss Lady.  After years of apprenticeship in the male dominated Tequila Industry, she purchased land in the highlands of Jalisco called Valle de Guadalupe and constructed her own distillery, Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).

She resolved to hire only women from the rural area and to teach them all she knew, from operating fermentation tanks to bottling and more.  She also established a learning center and living quarters at the distillery for her all female staff.

SinoDistillery outer

Melly has become a force to be reckoned with, tackling the Tequila Industry on her own terms.  Here’s what she had to say in response to our customary questions.

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

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?)

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

MB:  Fascinating!

It’s a world filled with constant challenges, where you have to work a lot and assert yourself.  Where you have to demonstrate that your sex doesn’t matter, Sino_pinas 2and instead, do things right and always move forward to improve yourself every day.

It’s a place where you find many helpful circumstances and others that are difficult obstacles that force you to struggle each day and to not give up.

It’s work that changes your life.  There’s always new things, new people, new experiences, new challenges.  The key is to wake up each day ready to relish whatever comes up.

(Facinante!

Es un mundo lleno de retos constantes, donde tienes que trabajar mucho y hacerte valer, donde debes demostrar que el sexo no importa sino hacer las cosas bien y siempre estar en movimiento y superarte tratando de ser cada dia mejor.

Es un espacio donde encuentras muchas manos amigas y otras manos duras que te retan y así te obligan a estar luchando cada dia  y no darte por vencida.

Es un trabajo que conviertes en tu vida. Siempre hay cosas nuevas, gente nueva, experiencias nuevas, retos nuevos, la clave es levantarte todos los días lista para disfrutar lo que venga)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

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

SinoSMB:   Hmmm.  Realistically, I’m not sure I’ve changed anything in the industry.

What I can say is that we’ve changed the lives of many women in the town where the distillery is located in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco.

Well, in the factory, besides teaching them how to make very good tequila, we’ve taught them that because we’re women, we are limited by NOTHING.

On the contrary!

In the factory, we do all types of jobs that perhaps have been labeled men’s work because it requires more physical strength than what we ladies have, but, by our astuteness that defines us, we develop skills and invent things to do our jobs equally as well as gentlemen.

Besides, when they demonstrate [to themselves] that they can do things that they’ve never even dreamed of, and that they can do so wondrously, they take that lesson into their daily lives and it changes their manner of thinking and they begin to forget their physical restrictions because women’s limitations exist only in their minds.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but the difficulty makes all the difference and the fun.

(Mmmm, realmente no se si he cambiado algo de la industria.

Lo que si te puedo decir que hemos cambiado la vida de muchas mujeres en el pueblo donde esta la tequilera en Valle de Guadalupe Jalisco.

SinoCrusher 2

Pues en la fabrica ademas de enseñarles hacer muy buen tequila, se les ha enseñado de no por “ser mujeres” estamos limitadas a NADA,

Al contrario !!!

En la fabrica se hacen todo tipo de trabajo, que tal vez se etiquetan como trabajo de hombres por que requieren de mas fuerza que las que tenemos las damas, pero con la astucia que nos distingue hacemos mañas e inventamos cosas para hacerlas igual de bien que los caballeros.

Ademas cuando les demuestras que pueden hacer cosas que ni en sueños pensaron que pudieran hacer, y lo pueden hacer de maravilla, este aprendizaje lo llevan a su vida diaria y cambia su modo de pensar y empiezan a olvidar sus ” disque limitaciones ” por que las limitaciones de las mujeres solo están en su cabeza.

No digo que sea fácil, pero lo difícil hace la diferencia y lo divertido.)

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

MB:  The future of women in Tequila has arrived!

Our tequilas say it all:  The feminine touch on tequila is its magic, its heart, and its soul.

In tequilas made by women, or with women’s help, a little piece of their hearts travels to all parts of the world.

SinoDistilleryCrew2

Since every day more women are working, it is this medium that has begun to be an important source of employment in the tequila [making/growing] regions.

(El futuro de las mujeres en el Tequila ha llegado!!!

Nuestros tequilas lo dicen todo, el toque femenino en el tequila es la magia, es el corazon, es su alma.

En los tequilas que hacen las mujeres, o con ayuda de mujeres se va un pedacito de su corazon a todas partes del mundo.

Ya que cada dia mas mujeres trabajan es este medio que ha empezado hacer una fuente de trabajo importante en las zonas tequileras.)

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?elcondeazul-blanco_6237_r2

(Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

MB:  Everything has its time and takes its course.

I believe that doing things right and demonstrating to the world the value of women in our beverage [tequila] industry is on a sure path.

(Todo lleva su tiempo y su curso.

Creo que el hacer las cosas bien y demostrarle al mundo el valor de las mujeres en nuestra bebida va por buen camino.)

TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?

(Esta Ud de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas, hoy en dia?)

MB:  That’s an interesting question.

I’d like all tequila to be [made of] 100% Agave Azul Tequilana Weber so that it could only be from the juice of this miraculous plant with all its properties.

There is a reason that the ancient Aztecs made offerings of this elixir to the gods and it was only imbibed by priests.

(Es interesante tu pregunta.

Yo quisiera que todo el tequila fuera solo 100% de Agave Azul Tequilana Weber, para que fuera solo jugo de esta planta maravillosa con todas sus propiedades.

No por nada los Aztecas ofrecían este elixir a los Dioses y solo era bebido en la antigüedad por los sacerdotes.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

ToroAzulMellyMB:  Of course.

I’d like to tell them that to sell tequila isn’t just selling a beverage, it’s giving the client an opportunity to get acquainted with this delicious and ancient beverage that was offered to the gods.  It’s giving them the chance to savor a beautiful history, a lovely dream, a small piece of Mexico.

To remember that inside every bottle go the thrills, the efforts and the hopes of a town that is proudly Mexican.

The sky’s the limit.

Salúd!

(Claro.

Yo quisiera decirles que el vender tequila no solo es vender una bebida, es darle al cliente la oportunidad de conocer la deliciosa bebida milenaria que era ofrecida a los Dioses, darles la experiencia de paladear una bella historia, un bello sueño, un pedacito de Mexico.

Que recuerden que en cada botella va la ilusión, el esfuerzo y la esperanza de todo un pueblo orgullosos de ser Mexicanos.

Que su limite sea el cielo.

Salúd!)

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Judy Rivera

sinoJudy Rivera, the latest Tequila Boss Lady to join our gallery, has figured out how to combine acute LA street smarts, a fearless entrepreneurial spirit, and artistic ingenuity into her Sino Tequila brand.

A staunch women’s rights advocate, Judy contracted with a small, 100% female owned and operated distillery in the highlands of Jalisco–Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).  Its Maestra Tequilera, Melly Barajas Cárdenas, oversees Sino’s distinctive flavor profiles, as well.

Successfully launching Sino in late 2009, Judy is an avid supporter of notable street artists, and even donates $1.00 of every bottle sold to non profit organizations that benefit artists, galleries and art programs across the country.

Finally, Rivera owes her boundless energy and work ethic to her father, and even shares her grandfather’s message as the basis of Sino’s name, below.

SinoFamilia

Read on as Judy tackles our standard handful of preguntas (questions).

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?)

JR:  Thinking through my entire experience since launching Sino Tequila atSinoBottle the end of 2009 until now, I really believe being a woman in the industry has garnered a lot of support for my Brand and my Mission, especially from the bar and restaurant side of things.

There have been some interesting times during the first couple of years bringing Sino to a distributor and getting a lot of “Are you the sales rep?” type of questions.

I would of course answer, “Yes, the sales rep, the accountant, the marketing agency and the owner!”

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

JR:  Well, I think if nothing else it opens everyone’s mind that you don’t need to be a millionaire to make great tequila.

I am very proud of my Brand and the wonderful distillery that produces my SinoSrecipes.

There are still some people that may dismiss the tequila because it doesn’t have the flashy television ads, etc., but I believe quality and creativity supersedes relying solely on flashiness and huge budgets.

I see that being realized by more and more people each day.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

JR:  It will definitely continue to grow and we will become a stronger voice.

It’s awesome to see more women become Master Tequileras and how women in the Tequila/Mezcal industries especially are helping each other gain experience to rise up in the industry.

SinoLogo

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

JR:  The competitive aspect of the industry can be enjoyable, but at the same time, when it gets reduced to “my tequila/mezcal is better than yours,” it gets quite annoying.

I enjoy spending time with people that continue to teach me about what makes each tequila or mezcal different from one another.SinoVariety

Education over bullying is always a better result.

That’s why I love what you and others do for the industry.  It gives a forum for even little brands like me to speak up.  Thank you for that! [Editor’s note:  You’re welcome!]

TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?

JR:  I love the creative marketing aspects of the industry.

Some, I think, are a bit ridiculous, some a bit stale, but at the same time all of it is interesting.

I still think there is a lot more out there on how to bring in the culture of Mexico and [to] be creative with branding that I don’t always see.

I tend to like brands from a messaging standpoint that market somewhere between the Rancho image of Mexico and the Club scene of a major US city.

SinoSupper

There is so much more content to have fun with in the middle of those two extremes which I really try to tap into.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

JR:  Yes, go for it!  If it is your passion you need to chase it.

I really live by what made my final decision to jump into the world of agave – “Si no tratas, no ganas”

If you don’t try, you won’t win.

As long as it is a passion and something you want to try for the love of it, then it will be an extremely fulfilling journey!

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Sarah Bowen

Divided Spirits, Sarah BowenI have many fond memories of my first meeting Sarah Bowen during the historic Ian Chadwick Blue Agave Forum tour of tequila distilleries in 2006.

She was a young student then, relentlessly recording every interview with master distillers and jimadores on a digital voice recorder, in flawless Spanish.

Who knew that ten years later she would be a wife, mother, and an Associate Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University?

No doubt, she did.

Her years of intricate research into the tequila–and the now booming mezcal–industry led her in 2015 to publish Divided Spirits:  Tequila, Mezcal and the Politics of Production.

A vital voice that every potential Tequila Boss Lady should heed, here are Sarah’s responses to our handful of questions.

***

Bowen_headshot, Sarah BowenTA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal Industries?)

SB:  I am a researcher, not a part of the tequila or mezcal industries, so I think that matters.  I have thought a lot, however, about how being a woman mattered for my research.

For my book, I did over 100 interviews, and most of these were with men, who still hold most positions of power in the industry.  I think that in some cases, being a woman gave me an advantage.

Many of the men I interviewed did not perceive me, a young woman and a student at the time, as a threat or even as someone with a lot of knowledge of the industry.

This meant they were often willing to share politically controversial perspectives or details about their companies that I don’t know they would have shared with someone they saw as more of a contemporary.

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

SB:  In my book and in some of my other writing, I have tried to communicate the important issues facing the tequila and mezcal industries and show how consumers in the U.S. can advocate on behalf of small producers, farmers, and workers.

Consumers in the U.S. and Mexico helped defeat NOM 186 several years ago, and I hope we will be able to defeat NOM 199, the absurd proposal that would force many small mezcal producers to use the word “komil” to sell their spirits.

In a certain sense, I have more hope for the future of mezcal, in particular, than I have [tequila] in the ten years since I started studying these industries.

Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about issues related to sustainability, quality, and fairness in these industries, and I hope that I might have played some small part in that.  But I also realize that it’s an uphill battle.

The rules that define tequila and mezcal have evolved in one direction for the last 60 years, and almost every decision has favored the big companies over small producers and workers.  Changing that trajectory is difficult, but I think we’re starting to see some positive changes.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

SB:  I think that women are going to become more visible in the tequila and mezcal industries in the next few years.

Sarita Gaytán and Ana Valenzuela’s research on women in the tequila industry has shown that women are represented in increasingly diverse positions in the tequila industry:  from tequila companies to the CRT.

GracielaAngeles, Sarah BowenThe diversity and amount of mezcal being sold in the U.S. has grown so much in the last few years, and women are an important part of that growth as well.

For example, we see women like Graciela Angeles heading up Real Minero, one of the most interesting mezcal brands, and also being an influential and important voice about many current debates related to mezcal.

I think that these trends are going to continue, and that this is really important for the future of these industries.

TA:  What facets of the Tequila/Mezcal Industries would you like to see change?

SB:  We need more transparency about how profits are being distributed.

As I said above, savvy American consumers and bartenders are increasingly knowledgeable about the practices used to make their tequila and mezcal, and in the case of mezcal, about the type of agave that goes into it.  I think this has had positive effects.

But consumers know very little about how the people who make tequila and mezcal are compensated.

We live far away from the communities where [mezcal] is being produced, and it’s easy to romanticize these producers and their traditions.

We need to ask questions about how their mezcal is being produced—and perhaps most importantly, about how the small producers, farmers, and workers are being paid.

We also need to question a mezcal Denomination of Origin [DO] that excludes so many people and regions with long histories of making mezcal.

The rules of the DO excludes many people by setting standards that are more appropriate for large, industrial producers.  Even more egregiously, the geographical boundaries of the DO exclude people in many regions of Mexico where people have been making mezcal for multiple generations.

And NOM 199 threatens to make this even worse, by now making these people call their products “komil.”

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Mezcal Industries in one form or another?

SB:  I hope that they will continue, and I hope that they will support each other.

Bowen_agave

Diversifying the voices we hear from regarding the future of these industries–in terms of gender, but also in terms of geography, size, and ethnicity—is the best way to preserve the quality of tequila and mezcal and also support all of the people that make them.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Graciela González Cortes

ElMayortequila-ambassadorsThe latest Tequila Boss Lady to join our gallery of famed Women In The Tequila Industry is Graciela González Cortes of the family owned El Mayor tequila.

More than just her family’s brand ambassador, she is also a co-owner of Destiladora González González (NOM 1143) and a fourth generation Master Distiller herself.

Over 125 years of hard work by the González clan has gone into perfecting the art of growing agave and distilling tequila, with Graciela, her brother Paul, and their father, Don Rodolfo working closely to make El Mayor–a 2015 Brand Of Promise(c) winner–widely acclaimed and heavily sought after.

Tequila Aficionado Media asked Ms. González our standard handful of questions.  For her convenience, and that of our Spanish speaking audience, this interview is published in both English and Spanish.

el mayor

***

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?)

GG:  My experiences have been very gratifying [rewarding] since it is this same GG_ElMayorposition that has allowed me to learn and to increase my knowledge in order to globalize [expand] them within the industry.

It’s satisfying to experience, step-by-step, the opening [opportunities] for women in this field, even though it is primarily male dominated.

(Muy gratificantes, ya que la misma posición me ha permitido aprender y acrecentar mis conocimientos para globalizarlos en la industria.

(Es satisfactorio vivir paso a paso la apertura de la mujeres en este ámbito aunque aun sea dominada principalmente por hombres.)

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

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

GG:  To be honest, I’m not sure that I’ve changed anything, but I’m definitely working on it.

One of my major dreams is to get people to appreciate the years of arduous work that exists behind every bottle of tequila and to transmit the passion my family, our team and I put into each product.

(Para ser honesta, no se si he logrado algún cambio pero definitivamente estoy trabajando en ello.

(Uno de mis mayores sueños es lograr que la gente sepa apreciar los años de arduo trabajo que existen de tras de cada botella de Tequila, poder transmitir la pasión que mi familia nuestro equipo y yo ponemos en encada producto.)

elmayor

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

GG:  Very good and promising.

Actually, women’s participation within the industry is growing incrementally in different parts [aspects] of the process.  From the fields, tasting panels, bottling and administration.

It’s gratifying being a part of these changes and to witness, day-by-day, how the doors are opened for us women.

(Muy bueno y prometedor. 

(Actualmente la participación de la mujeres dentro de la industria va en incremento en diferentes partes del proceso.  Desde el campo, panel de catado, embazado y administración.

LMAYORambassadors-cortes(Es gratificante poder ser parte de este cambio y presenciar como día a día se abren mas las puertas para nosotras las mujeres.)

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

GG:  I’d like to see the volumes of tequila in more countries.  That its presence increases incrementally worldwide so that more people can take delight in Tequila’s unequaled flavor.

To take the tradition and grandiose Mexican culture throughout the world with just a sip of this majestic spirit.

(Me gustaría que los volúmenes del Tequila estuvieran concentrados en mas países.  Que su presencia incrementara globalmente para que así mas personas pudieran deleitase con el inigualable sabor del Tequila.

(Llevar la tradición y grandiosa cultura Mexicana por todo el mundo, con tanGG_ElMayorToast solo un sorbo de esta majestuosa bebida espirituosa.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

GG:  Yes, definitely do it.

In my experience it’s an industry filled with challenges, but more than anything, rewards.  For women, these include, day-by-day, more participation, acknowledgement and respect.

I invite you to form part of this passionate industry!

(Si, que definitivamente lo hagan.

(En mi experiencia es una industria llena de retos pero mas que nada gratificaciones.  La cual es incluyente con las mujeres, día a día tenemos mas participación, reconocimiento y respeto.

(Las invito a formar parte de esta apasionante industria!)

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Lisa Elovich

FullSizeRender_LisaELisa Elovich is a relative newcomer to the tequila business.

Accompanied by a small army of family, staunch supporters and fans, and guided by some savvy tequila industry veterans, Her One With Life (OWL) organic tequila is gaining a firm foothold in her native New York state.

She is also no stranger to working–and thriving–in male dominated industries.

This mother of two has been a Parole Commissioner since 2007.  She served as an Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and was a Deputy Attorney General for the New York State Attorney General’s Office with a focus on juvenile justice and crime prevention programs.

If that wasn’t enough, Elovich was also at one time the state’s only licensed female professional boxing promoter!

Throughout her life experiences, Lisa has learned to remain present in the moment and the importance of balance.  Using her tequila brand as a vehicle, she imparts these lessons to all who enjoy One With Life.

Besides personally hand-selecting and test-tasting every batch in Mexico, each bottle is printed with a spiritual toast on the label and a special hidden quote inside.

Tequila Aficionado Media asked Ms. Elovich a handful of questions that, in the past, have been answered by our illustrious gallery of Women In The Tequila Industry.

Here’s what she had to say….

TA:  What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry? 

LE:  I have never felt like being a woman in a male dominated industry is a negative factor.  I was the only licensed female boxing promoter in New York State for awhile and I found that for the most part, people really only care about the results you produce, quality of the product and one’s character.

The same holds true for being a woman in the tequila industry. 

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

LE:  I am new to the industry but I think that I can help with dissolving egos and collaborating rather than always competing.

I believe that when you help others try to succeed you are more likely to succeed yourself.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

LE:  Women can bring a softer and more feminine perspective to the tequila world.

owl

One With Life Tequila’s niche is the health conscious female who enjoys organic products and the mild smooth taste of an ultra premium tequila

Now that high end tequilas are growing at a rapid pace, I think there will be more women entering the industry.

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

LE:  I would like to see the smaller companies get more attention.OWL_labels

It should not only be about who can spend the most money but about quality of a product and its unique contribution to the tequila market.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

LE:  I would recommend speaking with others that are already in the industry.  I was lucky enough to get advice from people who have founded tequila brands.  It is important to listen to people who have already been through the fire and come out the other side.  It is extremely labor intensive, time consuming and takes a lot of persistence.

For me it has been mostly trial by fire and sometimes I run into road blocks.  The key is to just stay focused and positive.  Work hard and have faith.  I encourage others to follow their passion and to not give up even when things get difficult.

It takes time and patience to build a brand.  Build it slowly and don’t get in over your head.

The most important thing is to enjoy the ride!  Tequila, like life, is supposed to be light hearted and fun!

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Carmen Villarreal by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Carmen Villareal, san matias

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño, The Original Tequila Boss Lady

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño is a legend among Tequila Boss Ladies.  In fact, she is the original Tequila Boss Lady.

To date, she is the only female tequila distillery owner, taking the reins of Casa San Matías soon after the tragic death of her husband in 1997.  Determined to keep his dreams alive, Carmen proceeded to create some of the most emblematic brands in the business like Carmessí, Rey Sol, and Pueblo Viejo.

Known as a fine humanitarian and crusader for equal rights for women, Ms. Villarreal has piloted Casa San Matías into the 21st Century as an ecologically and socially responsible company, as well as raising the bar in the production of quality tequilas.

If you’ve been following our series, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

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

Interview with Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño

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?)

CV:  My experience as a woman in the tequila industry has been very pleasant and I’ve always been shown respect, support and affection by my colleagues.  As with many women, my most important challenge has been to combine my personal and family life with my work and within the industry, to compete on a global scale as a family business.

Pueblo Viejo tequila, Carmen Villareal, san matias
Pueblo Viejo tequila

(Mi experiencia como mujer dentro de la industria tequilera ha sido muy agradable, he recibido siempre de mis colegas muestras de respeto, apoyo y cariño. Mi reto más importante ha sido, como el de muchas mujeres, el de combinar la vida personal y familiar con el trabajo y dentro del sector el de competir en un mundo global como empresa familiar.)

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

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

CV:  I’ve worked vehemently to strengthen the image of quality of our house [distillery] by enlarging the brand portfolio that we offer to the market.  I’ve dreamed of achieving total growth as a company by caring for the human aspect and the social environment.

We have the satisfaction [distinction] of being the first tequila company to be certified as a “Great Place to Work” and also the first to participate in the program of the sale of carbon credits that the United Nations promotes to combat global warming.  We are in the process of certifying as a company with gender equality, and also being the first company in the tequila industry to obtain [achieve] it.

(He trabajado fuertemente por fortalecer la imagen de calidad de nuestra casa ampliando el portafolio de marcas que ofrecemos al mercado. He soñado con lograr un crecimiento integral como compañía, cuidando el aspecto humano y el entorno social.

Casa San Matías, Carmen Villareal, san matias
Casa San Matías

(Tenemos la satisfacción de ser la primera empresa tequilera en certificarse como un “Great Place to Work” y también la primera en participar en el programa de venta de bonos de carbono que promueve la ONU para combatir el sobrecalentamiento global. Estamos en proceso de la certificación de empresas con equidad de género, siendo también la primera en la industria tequilera en obtenerlo.)

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

CV:  Fortunately, [I see] the doors of the industry have opened for women.  Every time there is more participation and recognition for the work we carry out.  Without a doubt, I expect the future for women to be very promising, especially in the areas of research, product development, quality [control], bottling, administration and marketing.

(Afortunadamente veo que las puertas de la industria se han abierto para las mujeres, cada vez hay más participación y reconocimiento al trabajo que desempeñamos. Espero sin duda que el futuro será muy prometedor para las mujeres, especialmente en las áreas de investigación, desarrollo de productos, calidad, envasado, administración y mercadotecnia.)

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

Rey Sol Extra Añejo, Carmen Villareal, san matias
Rey Sol Extra Añejo

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

CV:  There are lots of things I’d like to see changed.

I’d like to see an industry that could vertically integrate itself with the agricultural sector, achieving  a way to generate wealth for the land, the rural communities and for the industrialists.

I’d like to see the continued support of the participation of women in the industry, that we evolve to support them with more flexibility in programs and childcare.

I would love to see the Tequila category as one of the strongest in the world renowned for its quality.

(Hay muchas cosas que me gustaría cambiar…

(Me gustaría ver a una industria que pudiera integrarse verticalmente con el sector agrícola, logrando encontrar la forma de generar riqueza para el campo, para las comunidades rurales y para los industriales.

Carmessí, Carmen Villareal, san matias
Carmessí, made for adventuresome women.

(Quisiera que siguiéramos apoyando la participación de las mujeres en la industria, que evolucionáramos para apoyarlas más con flexibilidad en programas y cuidado de los niños.

(Me encantaría ver al Tequila cómo una de las categorías más fuertes en el mundo, reconocida por su calidad.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

CV:  I’d like to tell them to believe in themselves, in their potential.  The industry needs the participation of professional, talented and dedicated women to contribute to the growth of the sector.

(Me gustaría decirles que crean en ellas, en su potencial, que la industria está necesitada de la participación de mujeres profesionales, talentosas y dedicadas para contribuir al crecimiento del sector.)

***

Follow Casa San Matías (via Pueblo Viejo) on Facebook.

Follow them on Twitter @CasaSanMatiasUS

 

Never miss and article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Sophie Decobecq by M. A. “Mike” Morales

No list of Tequila Boss Ladies would be complete without mentioning the likeable and charismatic Sophie Decobecq, creator of the award winning Calle 23 Tequila.

Aside from her wacky sense of humor where marketing her tequila is concerned (‘Tequila makes us smarter. So, drink smart” is one of her favorite slogans), Sophie has a unique perspective on the Tequila Industry.  Not just a female master distiller, Sophie is also French born which presents its own set of challenges.

To reiterate, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Read on!

***

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

 SD:  It has been, so far, a rich human experience combined with a non-stop working period.

Tequila is a male dominated industry, or to be more precise, a Mexican male industry.  Meaning that there is a cultural dimension to it, with its own rules.

Being a foreigner, you have to respect them or better you do your life somewhere else.  I have been told only once by a tequilero that this was not a place for me, being a woman; this exception being completely forgotten thanks to many other tequileros who have made me a very nice space in their world.

Calle 23.
Calle 23.

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

 SD:  Did I ever change anything? (laughs). What I may have added is a point of view from a non-native person, with cultural habits of protecting traditions.  I still view through French eyes this industry in which I am deep inside for more than a decade, giving me the pride to represent, as best as possible, this Mexican treasure I fell in love with, and to spread the word about the category that is for me the future of tequila:  “tequila 100% agave”giving the full spirit of the agave plant (compared to the category “tequila”which is produced with only a minimum of 51% of agave).

My way of working in this industry follows a woman’s heart, which I would describe in my case as encouraging local economy, sustainable processes and Mexican culture, instead of having a business focused on money efficiency.

Please don’t literaly interprete this, as this is a very general vision.  There are many amazing men here doing this too, an example being Carlos Camarena from Tapatio keeping a place for his employees until they decide to retire.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

 SD:  Future is to build!  The industry is growing and there will be naturally space for more men and women. Current problem is that women are confronted with more difficulties to enter into it:  for the fact of being a woman, their capacity to handle the work is a challenge.  Same, in fact, as in other industries like politics.

Tequila Rules!
Tequila Rules!

There has been a female candidate running for Mexican presidency this year, and comments you could hear in medias and in the streets were mostly about being a woman more than about her program.  Which ever program each candidate had during these elections, no time was spent to question the fact that the other candidates were “men.”  Same in tequila, when importance should be on the objectives and the paths chosen.  Don’t you think?

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

 SD:  Less judgment based on gender.  I am not a feminist, just humanist:  considering people for their ideas and the persistency of their actions rather than their gender or social level from where they come from.

[The Tequila] Industry had amazing women in the past, leading and impacting tequila empire as Herradura.  It would be good to see that native women could have the opportunity to retake more often that place, if they are the best ones.  Not for being a woman, but for being the individual person that would be the best leader at that moment, as it actually was the case with Carmelita [Villarreal] from San Matias and Lucretia from Siete Leguas.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)
Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)

SD:  If this is your dream, follow it!!

Advice that I would give is persistency, respect for the amazing knowledge Mexicans have about this process that they have as a heritage, and unconditional patience for all the unexpected you will find on you way.

This unexpected and unplanned part is frustrating at the beginning, but trust me, after some time you kind of become addicted to it.  Every day is a challenge with many efforts to give, but you then earn a life with beautiful aromas and flavors around you, as well as joy, smiles, music, street-non-stop-sounds, colors, beauty of agave plants and so much more.

Welcome to [the] Tequila world!

***

Follow Sophie Decobecq on Facebook.

Follow Calle 23 Tequila on Twitter @TequilaCalle23

Never miss and article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!