“La Jima” – The Harvest
Before our agave is harvested, it is checked for its ripeness by inspecting its maturity and sugar content. The most common way to check for maturity is to look at the “heart” of the agave plant. This process is very similar process that is commonly used when picking out a pineapple at the grocery store. If the heart of the agave swells and starts to turn a light yellow, this is indication that the sugars are present in the agave and it is time to harvest.
The harvest is accomplished with harvesters called Jimadores. The jimadores use a tool called a coa, a razor sharp blade, to remove the fibrous leaves.
During the initial harvest, not all of the agave is ready for harvest. If the heart is still green we leave the agave in the field, untouched until it is ready. This practice is not common because most agave is contracted out and usually not owned by the producer. This is one of the most crucial points of the process of tequila, because if your agave is not harvested correctly you will have an inferior product. The best way to explain this process is making orange juice with green oranges; the juice will be considered 100% but because of the lack of sugars, the product will not taste as it should. This process is controlled by a member of the Gonzalez Family.
The primary job of the jimador is to shave off all the leaves off the agave correctly. To acheive this the leaves must be minimal to none. When the agave is shaved from it’s leaves, it is referred to as a pina, aka pineapple (not related). The more leave that is present in the pina the more bitter the tequila can taste. The best way to describe this is making orange juice with the rind still attached to the orange when juicing. This is monitored by a member of the Gonzalez Family.