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Tequila Valley boom and bust

CBC News Article by Connie Watson

Sixty-year-old Anacleto Romero holds out his calloused hands and points to a couple of small black spots embedded in his fingers.

"Those are agave thorns under my skin," he says. "Most of them work their way out, but these two never have."
Romero doesn't let the thorns slow him down. He's a jimador, an expert harvester of the spiky plant that is the essential ingredient in tequila.

He's keeping alive a tradition that goes back more than 200 years. The job of the jimador hasn't changed since the first licence to produce tequila was granted in 1795. Even the rudimentary tools of his trade are the same. But all around him, the traditional tequila industry has been transformed.

Source: CBC News - October 22, 2007 - http://www.cbc.ca/news/reportsfromabroad/watson/20071022.html

CONNIE WATSON: MEXICO - October 22, 2007 - Excerpt of article follows.

Demand is going through the roof. Production has gone high tech. Tequila is now quality controlled by scientists and legally protected by lawyers.

And owned — to a large extent — by foreigners. Mexico's trademark beverage is no longer in Mexican hands. And that's producing thorns that are causing a lot more trouble than the agave barbs embedded in Romero's calloused hands.

Seven years in the making

In the midst of the Tequila Valley, its hilly terrain ribboned by row upon row of spectacular blue agave plants, sits the Tres Mujeres tequila operation. Like many of the very small high-end tequila makers, Tres Mujeres is a family-operated business and 100 per cent Mexican. And it produces only pure tequila — made from 100 per cent agave.

(Mexico's Tequila Regulatory Council now allows regular tequila to be made with only 51 per cent agave. The remainder may consist of sugar cane or other plant sugars. Pure tequila must be marked 100 per cent agave and bottled in Mexico.)

Operations manager Sergio Partida is giving orders to the jimadores, watching over the fermentation process and checking the bottling of Tres Mujeres tequila. In between, he explains to me how a blue agave goes from the field to the final product.

A blue agave plant takes seven or eight years to reach maturity. During that time, its large flower stock is regularly cut off, so that the energy and sugars devoted to the flower's growth remain in the heart of the agave instead.

Read the complete article from CBC News -

Last Revision - 02 December 2009 - jat
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