A Glimpse Into the World of Patrón Tequila
ATOTONILCO EL ALTO, MEXICO | JULY 2019
You’ve probably heard about our incredible partnership with Patrón Tequila to create the Roca Patrón Series, seven amazing dining experiences throughout the nation happening this fall. This series will not only allow us to bring our purpose closer to a lot of you, but will also enable a positive impact on the planet, as all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Savory Institute, an organization that works on large scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands.
When our partnership with Patrón started to take shape, we knew we’d need to experience first hand what Patrón is about and see how they live their company values everyday. In early July, we headed to the Hacienda Patrón—Patrón’s distillery in Atotonilco El Alto, Mexico—and we were not let down! We boarded a flight to Guadalajara with the purpose to learn as much as we could about the tequila making process and about what makes Patrón different, not just as a product, but as a company.
Attention to detail was first to strike. Carla met us at the airport with a friendly smile and, as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, she shared about her earlier years in Wisconsin and how her family made it back to Atotonilco and decided to stay and embrace that feeling of home. Her mother, father, and brother also work at Patrón now! After everyone arrived, we boarded the Hacienda Patrón bus for a 1.5 hour ride to La Casona—a guesthouse next to the Hacienda—where we were handed a refreshment as we checked in! The rooms at La Casona couldn’t have been more comfortable and beautiful, ideal to rest after a long day of travel and before being treated to amazing food and drink. A bar open for 7 hours a day, a 24 hour gym, and a 24 hour (!) coffee shop onsite serving coffee from Veracruz. We were in awe by the luxury and hospitality at La Casona and, after a delicious barbecue overlooking the beautiful grounds and landscape, we felt beyond excited for day two to discover what makes Patrón the finest tequila.
Through a brief presentation of the Patrón Tequila making process, we learned that Patrón does not own, grow, or harvest agave; instead, they have long-term contracts with local agave producers—mostly families— to source what they need for production. Despite price volatility in the agave industry, Patrón is committed to pay a price that ensures growers are making a profit, this practice supports the local economy immensely and allows Patrón to take in great quality agave only. Agave farming is a highly respected trade in Mexico, passed on for generations.
On day two, we visited the Plascencia family agave field where we observed a harvest demonstration and learned really interesting facts about agave: it takes 6 years on average to mature, it is harvested by hand, and the jimador—a farmer who harvests agave plants—has to assess each plant one by one to determine whether it is ripe and ready for harvest. We watched Tony harvest an agave plant with sweeping views of the highlands as backdrop, it was mind blowing!
After our agave field trip, we headed back to the Hacienda, where the magic happens and the agave piñas become handcrafted tequila. We had the opportunity to see both the roller mill and the tahona extraction processes. Patrón is one of the few distillers that uses the original centuries-old tahona process to uniquely capture the full complexity of the agave, so we were excited to see it in action!
We then moved on to the fermentation process, then to the distilling which is done in 100% copper stills to remove any taste of sulphur from the distillate.
One of the most impressive areas we visited was definitely the bottling room, where each bottle is hand-labeled and hand-corked. This area is mostly comprised of women employees who get up and do hand exercises several times during their shift to ensure they stay healthy. Finally, we visited the impressive aging room, where tequila is aged using five different types of casks.
Our last stop at the Hacienda was Patrón’s water treatment plant, where the by-product is processed and 70% of it is turned into clean water through reverse osmosis, while the rest is used to water their garden and composting site. Patrón shares compost with agave growers and other places in the community, as part of their efforts to diminish their production footprint.
During our visit, we also learned Patròn has an adult educational program for their employees at the distillery, nearly 100 of them have now obtained a high school diploma since the program started. This year, 66 are enrolled in the program.
After our busy day visiting the agave field and going through every step of the process at the Hacienda, we made our way back to La Casona for a late afternoon coffee and a short break before heading to dinner. It was a stunning day in Atotonilco, a breathtaking pink sunset made for the perfect start to dinner and the evening progressed as we all shared our highlights from the visit.
It was an amazing experience to be exposed to the process of making Patrón Tequila and seeing everyone—from the people in production to the baristas, and everyone we encountered during our stay—carry on their duties with a contagious enthusiasm. We learned Patrón is about people.
Hospitality at La Casona was top-notch—we even experienced live mariachi music during our last dinner there! At La Casona and Hacienda Patrón, we found more than a world-class home and the finest tequila. We experienced a close-knit environment, a commitment to a better world, a people-first company. We definitely saw how Patrón Tequila is handcrafted with more than tequila in mind.
To learn more about this partnership, visit our Roca Patrón Series page.