Q&A: The Tequila Industry's Leading Lady
October 17, 2013 | by liana lozada | Food & Drink News
|Bertha González Nieves, cofounder and CEO of Casa Dragones.|
As the cofounder and CEO of luxury sipping tequila Casa Dragones, Bertha González Nieves is the first woman to hold the title "Maestra Tequilera," assigned by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila. And not only does Nieves know good tequila, she makes good tequila, too. In 2012, during an interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey declared Casa Dragones her favorite tequila. Moreover, lauded chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert have also given Casa Dragones the stamp of approval.
Here, Nieves talks getting into the business and elevating tequila distillation to a higher form.
At $275 a bottle, what distinguishes Casa Dragones from other tequilas?
BGN: Casa Dragones is a white tequila and an extra-aged tequila blend. At the end of the process, the color is filtered out to deliver this beautiful, crystal-like hue. We emphasize the body, clarity, visual characteristics, aroma, and finish. It is a joven-style, which is a forgotten style in the 100 percent agave tequila segment.
How did you discover your passion for tequila?
BGN: In my early twenties, I was chosen by the Japanese government to represent Mexico for a program in Japan. Part of my training required me to speak eloquently about our culture, economy, folklore, politics, and industries, so I got invited to visit Mexico's top tequila distilleries. After one day in the tequila world, I called my family and said, 'I know what I want to do. I want to be a part of the tequila industry.' The transformation from a plant to a delicious elixir attracts me the most. I still can't get enough of it.
And what was your family's response?
BGN: My mother and father were thinking, Woman, early twenties, tequila category—not a good idea!
Did you have any reservations about entering a male-dominated field?
BGN: I didn't even think about it. It didn't dawn on me until my first day at work and I realized there are not a lot of women here. From there on, I just put my passion and commitment forward. I manage Casa Dragones from a place of passion, that is how you gain the respect of those around you.
Tell us what the title of Maestra Tequilera means to you.
BGN: Maestra Tequileros deliver extraordinary products and distinguish tequila's appellation of origin. It's more than recognition. I see it as a responsibility.