In the area around the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco, greenish blue fields of agave stretch out mile after mile over the rugged, hilly terrain. All of the tequila in the world, some 60 million gallons a year, is produced in this region, which includes parts of the states of Guanajuato, Nayarit, Michoacan and Tamaulipas. In 1978 the “Appellation of Origin Tequila” was instituted, decreeing that agave-based drinks made anywhere else may not be labeled tequila.
On your visit to Tequila you will see the town's 18th century church, the National Museum of Tequila and tour a distillery or two where you'll learn about the tequila-making process and sample different varieties of the spirit. At La Rojeña, the Jose Cuervo distillery, a guided tour explains each step in the process as the agave plant is transformed into tequila.
Another option for exploring the tequila-producing region is aboard the Tequila Express tourist train. It departs from Guadalajara and includes a guided tour of the Herradura distillery, lunch at a Mexican hacienda, live mariachis and folk dancing, and of course, tequila. On a stop at the Hacienda San Jose del Refugio, home of Tequila Herradura, you will see how tequila production has changed over time from a small artisanal production to a mass-produced internationally consumed beverage with strict regulations. But some aspects remain virtually unchanged, such as the way the agave is harvested. Called the jima, harvesting is still done manually with the same tool as in the past. Other parts of the process have been modernized.
You have likely already sampled tequila, but drinking tequila in Tequila adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Most come away with a new respect for Mexico’s national spirit.