Tequila maker Guillermo Sauza, of Fortaleza, is in South Africa to launch his new range of drinks. He was at Satona bar lounge where he had a chat with the people who love tequila and his brand.. Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Old, but not out, 62-year-old tequila maker Guillermo Erickson Sauza grew up obsessed with the Boeing 747 that he would draw himself inside, next to, behind and all around one.

He believed he would build one some day, and fly it all over the world.

But as fate would have it, he would grow up to carry on the family old business and live his grandfather’s dream instead.

Sauza was born in Chicago, in the US, to a Mexican mother and a Scandinavian father.

Though his first years of schooling were in Chicago, Sauza learnt the importance of the family business as a young boy. His grandfather took him on a walk in the agave fields and told him, “this land is the land of my father, and before him it was the land of my grandfather”.

“This is the land of the agave. You must always take care of it because this land is the lifeblood of our lives.”

It was at that moment that he knew he could never turn his back on the family’s old tradition of making pure and traditional tequila.

His began working at his family’s distillery La Perseverancia when he was 13, which was founded by his great-great grandfather Don Cinobio Sauza in 1873.

After graduating from San Diego State University in 1981, Sauza worked in management at a top defence contractor and in the software industry, as well as managing his family’s agricultural properties that were dedicated to growing agave.

When Sauza was 20, his grandfather sold the business and it was turned into a museum to show how traditional tequila used to be made.

But in 2000 after raising more than $2.5million he created Tequila Los Abuelos SA de CV, a company in Mexico, and started the restoration of his grandfather’s 125-year-old distillery, La Fortaleza.

Destileria La Fortaleza, which translates into “Fortitude”.

Sauza said today his beverages sold in more than 19 countries, with South Africa being one of the best-selling.

“People in South Africa appreciate the value of spirits and it is amazing how well tequila is doing in this country.

“We are in the process of introducing a 4th bottle, the Fortaleza Still Strength, and we are positive it will do well here too,” Sauza said.

And the secret to his success? “Strategy is to make the finest sipping tequila from 100% blue agave, using old-world production methodologies and never with other sugars or colour or ‘taste-softening’ additives,” he said.

Weekend Argus