Designation of Origin for Tequila: Geography

A few days ago we posted about the Designation of Origin for Tequila, now this post will talk more in depth of the factors that make the Tequila region so unique for growing and harvesting Blue Agave.

Designation of Origin is the name of a geographic area of the country which designates a specific product made in such area and whose quality or characteristics are a result of its geographic environment, including natural and human elements.

Designation of Origin for Tequila started in 1975, obligating agave growers and tequila makers to register their crops and follow certain rules and regulations. The organism in charge of overseeing the fulfillment of those rules is called Consejo Regulador de Tequila (CRT).

This definition requires:

  • The demarcation of a specific geographic zone
  • Proven recognition or repute of the geographic site
  • Specific production conditions
  • Type/characterization

There is a consensus among the experts on the matter who agree that the decisive factors with respect to a designation of origin are the following (in order of importance);

  1. Climate.– With regard to climate, the main elements are light intensity, hours/light, precipitation, temperature, relative humidity. The climate in the region is warm with a bit of humidity, and with a low probability of freezing temperature despise the altitude of the lands. The best temperature for blue agave to grow is 15°C to 25°C during the day and 10°C to 15°C during the night. The rain amount should be no more than one meter a year.
  2. Soil.- Soil texture and chemistry are relevant factors.  The best type of soil is clayey or argillaceous, permeable, and rich in iron and other nutrients. Soils that allow the roots of the plant to breathe and grow, that are not sandy and that are too dark.
  3. Plant species.- Agave tequilana Weber blue variety is the plant species used for producing Tequila. It is native to this region and thus perfectly adapted to the climate and soil conditions.
  4. Human Activity.- This refers to the human activities involved in the entire process, from the planting to the harvesting of agave, to the production and ageing of Tequila. These activities may include techniques, artisanal traditions and skills; like the process of the Jima.


Above you can see a map of the 5 states within Mexico with Designation of Origin, this means that only agave that grows in this states can be used to make Tequila. This states form the Tequila Region and are (from top to bottom and left to right):

  • Nayarit
  • Jalisco
  • Guanajuato
  • Michoacán
  • Tamaulipas

Around 87% of tequila is produced in the state of Jalisco, 6% in Michoacan, 6% in Nayarit and 1% in Guanajuato, while Tamaulipas only produces around 0.1%.

The region showed in the map has the right characteristics that allow Blue Agave to grow and then produce tequila. The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is perfect for growing of the blue agave. Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands Los Altos region, they are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.


If you would like to know more about the Designation of Origin or about any Tequila related topics, please leave a comment and let us know!

3 Comments on “Designation of Origin for Tequila: Geography

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