Aeromexico Announces a New Canadian Route: Mexico City – Vancouver

Aeromexico announces the beginning of its new direct flight between Mexico City and Vancouver on December 9th, 2015

Amber Lounge brings Monte-Carlo Glamour to Mexico City

This November, Mexico City will host the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Building an Empire from the Soil Up: Ceja Vineyards

“We are successful because we love what we do, we work hard, but we love what we do.”– Amelia Ceja

Your Vacation Guide to Puerto Vallarta

The Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta has long been popular with tourists and travellers as a place of beauty ...

A Taste of Germany: Fredericksburg, a Central Texas Historic Getaway

Just 70 miles west of Austin, this heritage community was settled by German immigrants in the 19th century...

Visit Northern New Mexico

Check Out Our Top Ten Places to Experience in Northern New Mexico

Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Nature Calls

My Costa Rican adventure took me to Guanacaste , a small city near the Pacific Ocean, located roughly four hours from San José.

Mexico: Beachfront Boutique: Casa de Mita and a Basket Full of Goodies

As fate would have it, his boat ran out of gas in front of a secluded strip of beachfront property known as Playa Calleros.

Wine: Texas Harvest

Texas is the country’s fifth leading wine producing state behind California, Oregon, Washington and New York.

Austin, Texas 2012 Calendar of Events

Austin in 2012: rock out, dig in, run on, or shop ‘til you drop

 

Travel: Houston

Where can you go for the best in entertainment, sports, cultural arts, shopping, dining and nightlife? 

Travel: Popular Hispanics® an online lifestyle & travel magazine brings you stories about exotic travels to worldwide getaways, exclusive hotels and Caribbean/Latin American countries.

Tequila, Mexico: Not Just a Day Trip Any More

by Diana Rowe

 

Tequila BusTequila -- the liquor, not the town -- has picked up a bit of a bad rap even as it's grown increasingly popular throughout North America, Europe, and beyond. As in, margaritas and shooters, a cheap and surefire way to get -- how can I put this -- majorly wasted.

 

And yet...ever more folks are coming to appreciate the spirit's finer points -- there are reposados the equal of any single malt or Cognac, and a lore nearly as varied and distinguished as either. It was this pedigree -- plus a taste of the lesser-known color of colonial Mexico -- that I was seeking when I set out for this legendary central Mexican town.

 

Tequila is distilled from the cactus-like agave plant, and an officially designated "Tequila Route" passes through various villages that live for agave (including homemade brew in mini-barrels lining shopkeepers' shelves; sample at your own risk). But it's in and around Santiago de Tequila (pop. 27,000) on scenic Carretera15 less than an hour from Guadalajara that you'll find more than half of Mexico’s 90,000 acres of blue agave cultivation.

 Agave Fields

Tequila and neighboring communities like Amatitán and Arenal are this country's heart -- and definitely not tarted up for gringos. This is unvarnished countryside where weathered jimadores (agave farmers) hit the fields before sunrise to beat the worst of the sun's heat and the dark shadow of the Volcán Tequila hugs hilltops covered with acres of spiky blue agave -- an industry that all began when the Spanish conquistadors invented “tequila wine” within a few decades of their arrival.

 

The town itself consists of brick and adobe homes, splashed with ochre lime-wash and stone arches are wedged between tequila factories, such as Jose Cuervo’s Mundo Cuervo, a mammoth complex in the town center. In typical Mexican tradition, the hub of activity is the surprisingly clean town square and its typical high steepled church, and merchants in kiosks and permanent structures with neo-classical or baroque ornamentation surround the square.   

 

jimador QuirinoSoon after arriving at the fields, I found myself navigating rows of spiky, sharp greenish-blue agave plants and hearing the story of 68-year-old jimador Quirino. He’s walked these fields for decades, harvesting the heart of the agave -- yet, despite sun-weathered skin, he strode briskly, and his mind was sharp as a pointy agave leaf. It's a labor of both love and sweat, this -- from daybreak until the heat gets to be too much -- usually around 2 pm. Our early morning was highlighted by my jimador collecting wood and building a fire to roast warm quesadillas and freshly-picked ears of corn. Over this earthy breakfast, we sat at a picnic table and enjoyed a panoramic view of agave fields dotted with livestock.

 

Indeed, for Quirino and the tequila industry's 40,000 other workers, (mostly farmers and field pickers), tequila's far more than a simple drink – it’s their history, culture, and legacy. In fact, for many, “Tequila es México.”  UNESCO agrees; the area's been on the World Heritage list since 2006.

 

As recently as several years ago, tourist accommodations and amenities in Tequila were still barely more than rustic at best, and most travel guides would've recommended it as nothing more than a day trip from Guadalajara. But this fall I discovered the latest local offering: a new boutique hotel on the outskirts of town run amid 600 acres of agave by the boutique distillery La Cofradía.

 

In 2009, La Cofradía (See Links below), a tequila distillery just outside of the town, opened its first four themed rooms -- really casitas -- and plans 18 more.La Cofradia Each features a local artist’s mural and in-room amenities such as your first taste of Casa Noble tequila; rates start at US$150. The highlight here is a night tour and tasting showcasing the distillation and fermentation processes; I tasted the baked agave fresh from an oven and sipped raw tequila dripping from the still. Agave seeped from oak barrels stored in dark, shadowy warehouses, their musky smell surprisingly alluring. And as we sipped the final product, the house Casa Noble, we were surrounded by agave fields and the aroma of fermenting tequila -- a heady experience, for sure.

 

If you still prefer tackling Tequila as a day trip (as many still do), there are plenty of low-cost options from Guadalajara, as well as a two-hour train ride called the Tequila Express (adults 950 pesos, kids 550, seniors 850), which includes music and a dance performance, and stops at Amatitán for a tour of the 2,500-acre Herradura spread and factory at the 19th-century Hacienda San José del Refugio.

 

Alternatively, rent a car in Guadalajara for a 45-minute drive along the well-marked and scenic Mexican highways (just be forewarned that traffic can be tricky for those unfamiliar with Mexican driving). Many use the faster toll highway, but for those preferring the full experience, I’d recommend the slower two-lane as it runs through the smaller towns before reaching Tequila. If you'd like to spend the night in any of them, look for picturesque members of the Haciendas y Casas Rurales de Jalisco.

For more on Contributing Travel Writer Diana Rowe visit: www.dianarowe.com

 

More info: tequilasource.com, tastetequila.com, haciendasycasonas.com

Link to La Cofradia in Spanish

Link to La Cofradia Translated to English

Read More Articles

Honduran father finds purpose after son’s surgery

by Christine Bolaños

When Alex Guerrero laid eyes on his youngest son Cesar for the first time he saw beyond his clef lip and cleft palate and into his beautiful soul. His wife and three other children felt the same way. The Guerreros spent many sleepless nights afraid Ces

the full story

Introducing Laredo’s Newest Tourism Attractions

the full story

Aeromexico Announces a New Canadian Route: Mexico City – Vancouver

the full story

Amber Lounge brings Monte-Carlo Glamour to Mexico City

by Joey Franco

the full story

Paisano, Welcome to Laredo

the full story

Your vacation guide to Puerto Vallarta

by Aimee Claire

the full story

A Taste of Germany: Fredericksburg, a Central Texas Historic Getaway

by Shelley Seale

the full story

Austin, Could Your Property be a Goldmine for SXSW Visitors?

by Ashley Halligan

the full story

Austin, Texas 2014 Calendar of Events

by Gloria Alfaro - Information provided by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau

the full story

The Houston International Festival Transforms Downtown Houston by Spotlighting the Culture of Argentina

by Gloria Alfaro - Information provided by The Houston International Festival

the full story

Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Nature Calls

by Diana Rowe

the full story

Texas Harvest

by Julie Furnas

the full story

Do More in Houston

the full story

Come Discover Austin Texas

the full story