Last week, my Dad and I took a vacation down to Mexico for a few days. However, we didn’t spend our time on the beaches drinking margaritas. We are big fans of tequila and wen’t down to visit a bunch of distilleries (much like you would do at a vineyard). We’ve been down before to visit the town of Tequila (yes, there is an actual town of tequila) but this time we wanted to visit the mountains, or Los Altos. Tequila is similar to wine where terroir plays a huge role in the final product and with the agave taking around a decade to grow the region where it is grown definitely matters. Without getting too nerdy I wanted to share some of the images I took and little info about what’s going on.
Packing for the trip was a little difficult and I spent a few weeks trying to figure out exactly which camera I wanted to bring with me. I considered bringing my D800 but at the last minute realized I didn’t want to haul around my DSLR for 4 days so I ended up renting a Fuji x100s from BorrowLenses. I had purchased the camera at the beginning of the year but ended up getting rid of it a month later not really having a good use for it at the time. After this trip, I’ve definitely been corrected and I think I’ll be adding one to my bag to carry everywhere I go (especially when I’m commuting all over NYC). But, once again, I don’t want to get to nerdy on you so here are the images:
Two years ago on my first trip to Tequila our first stop was this field where they were preparing to plant these agave plants. It’s amazing how fast they grow and yet they still have 5-7 years left before they are harvested. This is one of the reasons why agave can be so expensive and why they are so well cared after. You are really putting an investment into a product that you won’t see a yield from for years.
Above and below are images of the piña (heart of the agave) which are being cut into pieces with a coa (tool in the image above). Once the agave is cut up they will be placed into and oven to be cooked for several hours (varies by distillery and by type of oven).
Above: Each of the pieces are placed by hand and organized to fit as much as possible. You’ll notice at the top there is a hole where they will climb down so they can pack it all the way to the top. Below: The agave have just come out of the oven and are ready to go onto the next step.
The old school method of making tequila involved using a large stone called a tahona to extract the juices from the agave. There are very few distilleries that still use this process because it isn’t the most efficient process. We were lucky enough to visit a few of the distilleries that still use this method and two of them were up and running while we were there. The tahona in the image above is pulled by two donkeys and the one below is pulled by a tractor (although you can’t see it).
Once the juices have been extracted they move on to fermentation and distillation and then depending on what type of aging some of the final product will be moved into barrels to be aged for various different times. Above and below are images from one of the largest barrel rooms I have ever been in. It was also just one of four that they had on the grounds…
This was definitely a little deviation from the typical post on my blog but I really wanted to share some of the images from my trip. Although I wouldn’t consider this a personal project I think it could definitely lead to some sort of project in the future. I’m still trying to figure out the angle but my hope is to travel down to the Tequila region at least once every year it’s a great opportunity to photograph another passion of mine.
We’ll be back to the regular Sportrait posts in the next week or two. The images I created for the University of Oregon’s spring sports are starting to slowly trickle out so hopefully I’ll be able to share those soon.
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