It all started when Don Julio Gonzalez was just 10 years old. Working in his uncle’s tequila distillery. He was full of passion and saw a unique opportunity in the production of tequila. However, at such a young age he had no money. So for 7 years, he worked hard to fulfil his dream then in 1942 aged 17 he approached the wealthiest merchant in Atotonilco and told him that he wanted to start his distillery. The man laughed and asked Gonzalez from where he would get the money to do so. Don Julio responded with confidence that he would.
Seeing the burning passion in Don Julio’s eyes, he loaned 20,000 pesos to him and started his work to establish his distillery. He dreamed and set off to revolutionise the tequila industry.
This passion for Gonzalez created the world’s first luxury tequila. He chose quality over quantity and planted each agave further apart. This gives the plants the proper room to grow and fully mature before harvesting. He would then select only the juiciest portions of the piña and then steam them for 72-hour cycles.
While bottling his creation, he broke the tall Tequila bottle tradition of typically hidden under tables. He knew his new spirit had no business hiding under the floor, so he designed a shorter tequila bottle. This way, his guests can pass the bottle around the table while still being able to see each other.
Let’s rewind and focus on a few highlights from Don Julio’s life.
He started working when he was 10 years old:
Several years before Gonzalves spoke to the merchant, he used to work at his uncle’s tequila distillery. That’s where he learned all about tequila production.
His father passed away in 1940, and Julio being the oldest son was the sole earner of the family. He earned around 9 pesos a week working in farmland and soon realised it wasn’t enough for the family. So he set out as the first independent tequila venturer.
He distributed tequila on horseback:
For several years, the teenager Gonzalves saddled up his horse and loaded two 25-litre barrels of tequila. His previously earned 9 pesos a week was now 9 pesos a day!
The tequila distillery is still in use today:
La Primavera, the name of his tequila distillery began operations in Atotonilco soon after González secured his loan. He soon launched his first brand, Tres Magueyes. Within a decade, he successfully yielded the Don Julio Tequila collection of Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, 70, 1942, and the ultra-premium REAL. All the six variants are still being produced at La Primavera.
He was the sole producer and his namesake tequila transformed the industry:
He was the distiller as well as the salesman. On Don Julio’s 45th year as a tequilero, his family threw a special party to honour him and celebrate his success. At this gathering, González offered his guests the tequila that he had aged in his office. He claimed it to be the best he had and wanted to share it with his loved ones. After the party, people began calling him and asking to buy the tequila they’d tasted. But Don Julio said it wasn’t for sale. However, later he decided he would produce this tequila for sale. This tequila became one of the first luxury tequilas. It transformed the entire industry and created a whole new category of tequila.
His Legacy Continues:
The current head distiller, Enrique De Colsa, was trained by Don Julio himself. On the 70th anniversary of the brand, De Colsa took a page from Don Julio’s playbook and created Don Julio 70, the world’s first clear Anejo. This innovation as well as beats all the other brands in the industry.