Terroir is how Tequila gets its character, and is a French word, derived from the latin Terra, meaning land or earth. The French use this word to describe the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that give wine grapes their distinctive character. Dirt. Sunshine. Rainfall. Fog and wind, the relationship the earth and weather have on a grape.
Just as terroir plays a significant role in how a particular wine tastes, so it also influences agave and the subsequent taste profile of Tequila or mezcal. In Jalisco, where the majority of agave for Tequila is grown, there are two major regions with vastly different terroirs. The Tequila Valley, about 43 miles to the northwest of Guadalajara and sitting just under 4,000 feet above sea level, is known for its rich volcanic soil influenced by the nearby Tequila Volcano. Inactive for over 200,000 years, the volcano left behind soil rich with nutrients that have made the valley very fertile. In the opposite direction from Guadalajara, about 80 miles to the east and perched 7,000 feet above sea level, are the Highlands. Well known for its “red” soil, the Highlands dirt is rich with iron and produces a softer and fruitier version of the finished product.
Understanding where the agave is grown will help you understand what it is you’re enjoying.
Chula Parranda is made at the Tre Mujeres Distillery in the valley, northwest of Guadalajara and is distilled from blue agave grown in this valley region.