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.)


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Tequila Boss Ladies by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Carmen Villareal, san matias

Tequila Boss Ladies

 “The world will be saved by the western woman.”

The Dalai Lama, Vancouver Peace Summit, September 2009

We’re pretty sure His Holiness had no idea that his proclamation would also include this Who’s Who of women in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Mary ClementeJurado Tequila…

Mary Clemente gets her close-up.Exclusivity breeds demand and Clemente’s Jurado Tequila, nicknamed the Black Swan (a metaphor used to describe hard-to-predict, high-impact and far-reaching events), is so rare that you’ll have to travel to Asia or the Middle East to find it.

Jurado Tequila (photo by Ian Cuttler).
Jurado Tequila (photo by Ian Cuttler).

Solely at Duty Free stores winter 2013, with rock star celebrity chef Grant MacPherson supplying added culinary deliciousness for the tequila connoisseur and world traveler.

Paula TorresNobleza Azúl tequila…

Nobleza Azul Tequila.
Nobleza Azul Tequila.

Not only does Paula own her own brand, but she comes from a family of Highlands agave growers.  Fiercely protective of her family’s land, heritage and tradition, Paula is involved in every aspect of Nobleza’s growth.

Paula Torres
Paula Torres

Find award winning Nobleza Azúl throughout Southern California and parts of Chicago, Las Vegas and Utah.

Watch our Sipping off the Cuff episode for Nobleza Azul here.

Maribel Garcia CanoTequilas del Señor

The mysterious Ingeniera García craftily flies under the tequila radar.

Quietly going about her business supervising the quality of the tequilas churned out at the famed Tequilas del Señor distillery, she has also managed to develop the critically acclaimed Don Diego Santa Tequila.

Don Diego Santa Tequila
Don Diego Santa Tequila



“…women would become the ‘saviors of the global economy.'”

  CNN, October 2012

Carmen Alicia Villarreal TreviñoTequila San Matías de Jalisco

Carmen Villareal
Carmen Villarreal



CEO Villarreal is the only female distillery owner to date.

Launching the legendary brand Carmessí in 1999, created with the essence of today’s women in mind, its website declares, “At Casa San Matías we’ve developed different tequilas to suit all of our clients, from daring women to experienced consumers.”

Available in major markets in the US and Europe.

Dr. Ana Valenzuela-Zapata

La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)
La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)

Known by some as “La Diosa Mayahuel” (the Goddess Mayahuel), Ana is the final word on agave ethno-botanics and the conservation of all native species of agaves in Mexico.

This published author frequently consults to agave growers and tequila brand owners.

An outspoken advocate for agave biodiversity and defending tequila’s Appellation of Origin, her next book, The Geographic Indication of Tequila, will cover just that.

Ana Maria Romero Mena

Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero Mena.
Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero Mena.

The only woman to be given the title of “Maestra Tequilera” by the powerful National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (CNIT), Ana Maria has consulted and taught seminars for every major tequila producer in the business, as well as developed several signature tequila brands for others.

She’s even designed a kit to help describe tequila aromas and written an award-winning book on the subject.

Sophie DecobecqCalle 23 Tequila

How does a nice French biochemist/engineer become a tequila brand owner?   Simple…

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris Mac)
Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris Mac)

She falls in love with the fermentation process, develops three different yeast cultures and produces three very different tasting tequilas.

Infusing them with her wacky sense of humor (“Tequila drives a Cadillac” is a favorite t-shirt slogan), Calle 23 is an award winner in both the US and the UK.

Calle 23.
Calle 23.



Jaclyn JacquezPresident, Don Cuco Sotol

The next hottest Mexican spirit to hit the market is not exactly tequila or mezcal.  Don Cuco Sotol has been described as the best of both worlds.

Outside of its own Denomination of Origin in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila, sotol has been a mystery for over 800 years.

Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.
Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.

Jacquez, the great-granddaughter of Don Cuco, trademarked the name in both Mexico and the US and then began exporting this sixth generation distillate into New Mexico, Texas, California, and New Zealand.

Bertha González NievesCEO, Casa Dragones tequila…

Bertha González Nieves, CEO of Casa Dragones.
Bertha González Nieves, CEO of Casa Dragones.

Along with co-founder and Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman, Bertha has managed to craft a highly sought after joven tequila, an often overlooked expression in the industry.

With a flavor profile that’s perfect for pairing with a myriad of cuisines, it has been praised by celebrity boss ladies Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey.

(For more with Bertha González Nieves click here  and Casa Dragones, here.)

“…women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.”

Arianna Huffington

With these female front runners leading the charge for change, the Dalai Lama, CNN and Arianna Huffington might not be too far off the mark.

If you enjoyed this article, look for more articles, video, and interviews on women & tequila coming soon from Tequila Aficionado Media.

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Agave NYC, Casa San Matias Forge Unprecedented Partnership!

Historic Mexican Distillery Aids Bar’s Bid for Tequila Industry’s Top Honor!

New York, New York, September 15, 2010:  A West Village hidden gem,Agave NYC, and one of Mexico’s most important tequila distilleries, Casa San Matias, collaborate in an exclusive pairing to qualify the Restaurant and Tequila Bar for the Tequila Industry’s most coveted award, the Agave de Oro.

Agave NYC, consistently rated as one of the finest Restaurants and Tequila Bars in the past decade by City Search, Zagat, New York Magazine, and Playboy, has launched its bid for the Tequila Industry’s most prestigious award, The Distintivo “T” Agave de Oro.

Created in 2003 by the Tequila Regulatory Council (Consejo Regulador del Tequila) and the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (Camara Nacional de la Industria Tequilera), the Distintivo “T” was designed to spread the authentic culture of tequila and to promote the denomination of origin of the Tequila, Jalisco region.

“Less than a handful of food and beverage establishments in the United States have qualified for this award,” declares Jason Silverman, Agave Beverage Manager for Agave NYC.

“We intend to be the only Restaurant and Tequila Bar in New York State to achieve this honor,” declares James O’Hanlon, General Manager of Agave NYC.

To do that, Agave NYC enlisted the help of Casa San Matias, one of Mexico’s top rated distilleries for quality, with over 120 years of producing exquisite, one hundred percent agave tequilas including Pueblo Viejo—Agave NYC’s house tequila–and the much sought after extra añejo, Rey Sol.

“We are very confident in the quality of our products,” affirms Gonzalo Escobar, Export Manager for Casa San Matias.

One of only two distilleries spearheaded by women in the male dominated Tequla Industry, Casa San Matias uses only its own estate grown blue weber agave for all of its marques.

“We combine state-of-the-art facilities, such as our bottling plant,” continues Escobar, “with traditional production methods like baking our agave in stone ovens, as well as using only pure spring water.”

To meet the stringent criteria for the Agave de Oro award, Silverman has chosen Casa San Matias’ Pueblo Viejo brand tequila to be the main ingredient used in all of Agave NYC’s house margaritas.

He has also amassed a phenomenal collection of over 100 different brands of only 100% agave tequilas selected based on taste and quality.  Agave NYC’s tequila menu further educates customers by grouping each tequila brand by its agave growing regions.

Additionally, Agave NYC hosts Tequila Tasting Tuesdays which includes a tantalizing three course meal lovingly prepared to highlight the nuances of each weekly featured tequila brand.

“Our tequila range, price and service are unrivaled in New York City,” asserts Silverman.

“Agave NYC is a bar where people who are curious about agave spirits, and want to discover and learn more about them, can enjoy a unique variety of tequilas in a relaxed, informal setting,” explains O’Hanlon.

Visit them on 140 Seventh Ave. South in New York City, order a handcrafted margarita created with Casa San Matias’ Pueblo Viejo tequila, and experience why Agave NYC was named to Playboy’s A-List as one the Top Ten tequila lounges in the US.


For a lively discussion on Agave NYC’s quest for the Agave de Oro award with Agave Beverage Manager, Jason Silverman, call 917-971-5215 now.  For an in-depth interview about Casa San Matias, contact Gonzalo Escobar, Export Manager, at 714-331-5678.  Visit Agave NYC online at http://southwestrestaurantnyc.com or www.agaveny.com.  Log onto www.sanmatias.com for more on Casa San Matias.

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