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3 weeks ago

Jesús Hernández, Maestro Tequilero of Altos Tequila

Jul 09, 2021

The Best Blue Weber Agave


In celebration of International Tequila Day on July 24, we asked Jesús Hernández, Maestro Tequilero of Altos Tequila, to share his expertise in cultivating the ideal blue Weber agave for producing the best tequila.



6 terroir conditions required for blue Weber agave

  1. Weather. Healthy and vigorous agave needs sun, as it thrives in warm temperatures. Any temperature above 5 degrees Celsius works well.

  At Los Altos de Jalisco we have a special peculiarity: a difference in temperatures between day and night. These characteristics provides to our agave a greater amount of sugars and more concentration of aromas.

  1. Watch out for frost! Agave plants can’t be exposed to low temperatures. Ideally not bellow 5 degrees Celsius.

  1. A good rainy season. A good agave plant needs the right amount of rain, which typically occurs during the months of May to July in Arandas.
     
  1. Soil. The ground should be loose and soft to allow the horizontal root system to grow more easily. The red soil of Los Altos de Jalisco is rich in minerals which provides also the agave with enough sugars and nutrients.
  1. Incline. The plant should be grown on a slight incline to prevent waterlogging and soil erosion.

  1. Proper pH. The soil pH should be close to seven, in other words, neutral.



What is pH and why is seven the magic number

  • The pH scale is used to measure acidity or alkalinity of soil and other substances. 

  • Seven is the midpoint, or neutral, and is the pH of pure water. A pH less than seven indicates acidity. A pH greater than seven indicates alkalinity.

  • The lower the number, the greater the acidity; the higher the number (from 7 up to 14), the greater the alkalinity.

  • When the pH of the soil is not neutral, the plants are unable to absorb nutrients from the soil, which inhibits plant growth. 



The origin of the name blue Weber 

  • This variety is named after European Botanist Franz Weber, who first identified it in the nineteenth century.




Plant characteristics

  • Blue Weber agave was naturally abundant in the Jalisco area when it was classified. 

  • The root structure is horizontal; the leaves are narrow, straight, and lance-shaped, with a teal blue color and a waxy substance that reduces water loss during the hot periods of the day.

  • Because of its metabolism, a ripe agave can yield up to 26% total reducing sugars when its starch tissues are hydrolyzed (by cooking). Other agave varieties, such as agustafolia and salmiana, can only yield between 15 to 17% total reducing sugars. 

“If a blue Weber agave has a good sugar level, this will be reflected in the sweet and fruity notes of the tequila that is produced. Similarly, the herbal notes will be reduced.”

Jesús hernández, Maestro Tequilero of Altos Tequila


Special care

  • Fields must be kept free of weeds, and disease and pests controlled. Fungus growth must be prevented as well. 

“Blue Weber agave’s high-quality sugars are obtained through good fertilization with phosphorous and potassium. Harvesting the plant at peak ripeness is also essential.”

JESÚS HERNÁNDEZ, MAESTRO TEQUILERO OF ALTOS TEQUILA


Watch out for pests

  • Wild grass, and small shrubs like huizaches (sweet acacia), and capitana (crown beard) can grow alongside the agave plant competing for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients.

  • If the agave gets too much shade in the rainy season, fungi, like fusarium can then grow and attack the root system, preventing the plant from absorbing necessary nutrients from the soil. 

  • One of the most common pests that attacks the agave is a beetle called picudo. It drills into the head of the plant exposing it to infections. Another enemy to the agave is a bacterium called erguinea, which enters from the center of the plant where new leaves sprout. These bacteria will grow in the head of the plant and eventually kill it. If the field is left untreated, the infection will spread quickly to other plants.



Necessary nutrients

  • Organic nutrients, such as compost, can add nitrogen to the plant, helping it with moisture retention and nutrient absorption.

  • Nitrogen also helps the plant grow tissue and foliage, while phosphorus and potassium will improve vitality and sugar yield.  

If you want to learn the differences between Jalisco’s Terroir click here.