Du Jour: Mexico’s First Lady of Tequila

Dressed in crisp summer whites, Bertha González Nieves is holding court at Mexico City’s premier power-lunch spot, Contramar. Despite a room full of bigwigs, González remains the center of attention.

And why not? Since 2009, when González teamed up with Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman to found super-premium tequila brand Casa Dragones – the $275-per-bottle booze beloved by fans like Oprah and chef Eric Ripert – she’s become a player on the luxury circuit as well as the personification of Mexican business acumen.

“She’s wildly articulate, knows what she’s doing and she’s got a real passion,” Pittman, an MTV founder, says. After a fortuitous meeting at a party, he suggested González quit her job as a spirits executive and join him in business.

And so she jumped. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepeneur,” González says now, alluding to her early days selling makeup to classmates, importing designer clothing and brokering deals between international publishers and local printing presses, all before the age of 20.

That entrepreneurial spirit is poured into Casa Dragones, which is helmed by Maestro Tequilero Benjamín García, whom González dragged out of retirement. It’s made from the underutilized joven blue agave tequila, farmed at 4,000 feet in Jalisco’s Eje Volcánico Trasversal, and hand-finished with extra anejo, aged five years in American oak barrels.

The result is a warm, wince-free liquor sold in hand-blown, lead-free crystal apothecary bottles that competes against top cognacs, single malts and the category-defining Patrón. Despite these odds, González has boosted

production to 24,000 bottles annually, mainly by using her own charm – and Pittman’s Rolodex.

In González’s eyes, the international tequila market isn’t as much a hurdle as an opporunity. “I’ve always been selling things,” she says. “I like making my own money.”