A Tale of Tequila and Transformation
Transformation is defined as “the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another.” This is true when distilling agave into tequila, but can also be true for people. While this is a story about tequila, it is also a tale of transformation in the mindset of bar manager, Joe Dietrich. For the majority of his professional career, Joe has prized the unique and unknown in the world of spirits and did not have a great appreciation for the well-known Patron brand of tequila. Nonetheless, he was invited to visit hacienda Patron and decided to travel with an open mind because he had never experienced a trip to a tequila distillery and was interested in learning more about the process and the people.
Upon arrival in Guadalajara, his first views of the Patron hacienda grounds were stunning. The building and estate is massive and welcoming, containing both modern concepts and old traditions in architecture and horticulture. Joe reflected, “I was floored by the awe-inspiring architecture and the positioning to the surrounding area. As mammoth as the property is, it was designed to exist with the land, not to oppose it. This should have been a clue to me, as this point was made clear many times throughout my experience.”
Joe and the other visitors began a tequila master class led by a team of scientists who impressed Joe with their knowledge and expertise. A blind tasting followed and each of the participants were asked to deductively taste a variety of tequila using the information they had just learned. Patron Silver handily beat every other brand in the test. Joe said, “I was surprised but happy that it won – my eyes were beginning to open.”
The next morning began early with a trip into the highlands to see the agave fields. The beauty of the well-manicured agave field was impressive and the group explored the life cycle of the agave learning how they care for it, propagate it and trim it in the field. Joe was struck by how much of the ancient culture surrounds agave. He said, “People in this region have been doing this for centuries, and it was humbling to witness.”
The tour of the distillery followed and the group watched the process of cutting and splitting the agave which is then placed inside the brick ovens. An ancient method using a two-ton volcanic Tahona stone is used to separate the fibers from the nectar. As they followed the fiber and the nectar to the fermenter and the stills, Joe began to truly understand Patron’s commitment to consistency, and to the people they employ. Instead of mechanizing, or increasing the size and production of their equipment, they scale in a unique manner. Rather than adding more machinery, they just expand the existing process. Joe shared, “They add more of the same size fermenter, more of the same size brick oven and more Tahona stones. This requires them to hire more people to operate the equipment which increases their support of the local population.”
This commitment became even clearer when the group visited the bottling room and learned that the workers in that area are specifically set up with shorter shifts than any other position. Patron runs these short shifts so they can offer jobs to mothers, expecting mothers, and people with special needs so they can still earn an income without being away from their families all day.
Joe had an emotional response to the values of the Patron brand and the quality of their product. “Every aspect of this trip was inspirational. I am now equipped to tell a wonderful story about the experience and the people who made it possible. This will always be one of the greatest stories I get to tell.”
Visit Joe at Civility & Unrest for a taste of tequila and experience his adventure with his new perspective and stories about the people behind Patron.