Terroir, Agaves, and Tequila
The word “terroir” is familiar to those talking about how grapes are grown for wine, and in fact, the word “wine” is directly referenced in its formal definition but it also applies to agaves being grown for Tequila. In truth, terroir can be applied to most anything that grows out of the ground. So what is it? When we apply it to agaves for spirit production, it most closely represents the weather, soil, and altitude at which the plants are grown.
Why use the word weather instead of climate here? While the climate of the region is likely similar year to year, extreme weather patterns like drought, frost, or heavy rains, or combinations of all of these can happen over the course of the 7 or more years that an agave stays in one place. Grapes are harvested annually, and while climate conditions like summer heats and winter chills cause stress in agaves, extreme conditions cause conditions that cannot be replicated. For this reason, each 7+ year lifecycle is unique to those years and therefore, each agave unique in composition and flavor.