Public Relations Director, Jose Cuervo
Words by: Karen Fick
In February 2016, Araceli will celebrate 20 years at Jose Cuervo and during that time she has achieved some, quite literally, monumental achievements – Duracelli, her son’s nickname for this energetic woman, is no exaggeration.
For her there is no such thing as a typical work day and it’s the social role of her job that she finds most gratifying, “every day is different, an experience and adventure and an opportunity for success and happiness in the tequila world”.
Araceli Ramos was born in Mexico City in 1966. Six months later her parents moved to Guadalajara, the cultural heart of Mexico and home to mariachi music, the sombrero hat, charreadas and jaripeos (rodeos), wide skirted ribbon bedecked dresses and the Mexican Hat Dance. Guadalajara is also the capital of the small Mexican state of Jalisco, the home of tequila.
Raised in a nurturing family possessed of a strong work ethic, Araceli was a motivated, self-disciplined child with a creative instinct. As well as achieving good academic marks she practised ballet, swam in the state swimming team and worked weekends for her mother in the family owned flour tortilla bakery.
From a young age she had a strong sense of her Mexican origins and an instinctive love of her country that a year of high school in America only served to reinforce. She went on to take a degree in tourism, which she chose as a vehicle to combine her love of travelling and culture, followed by a Language Masters at Dusseldorf University.
Araceli worked in just one role before she found her home at Jose Cuervo, and that was as Group and Convention Manager at the Camino Real Hotel in Guadalajara. One of her responsibilities was hosting the international distributors that Jose Cuervo brought to Guadalajara. Impressed with her warmth and enthusiasm, Jose Cuervo invited Araceli to fill a new role. As their Trade Relations Manager, she was responsible for the clients the company invited to their Mexican distillery to learn about tequila.
This first role at Jose Cuervo focussed on welcoming distributors, talking about the company and tequila and giving them an enjoyable experience of traditional Mexico. At this point in time, a global awareness of tequila, and particularly good tequila, was emerging. Back in Jalisco, tourists, keen to learn how artisan tequila was made, were sent by local hotels to knock on the door of Jose Cuervo to ask for a tour. As the tequila boom grew, so too did the number of tourists gathering at the door, and in 2000, the ever enterprising Araceli had an idea.
Araceli wanted visitors at Jose Cuervo to spend more time at the distillery site having an enjoyable day while learning about tequila. Above all she wanted to create an essential visitor destination. So she put together a business proposal setting out her plans for Mundo Cuervo, a tourist facility which would have hourly tours, tastings, a great place for lunch, a shop for souvenirs and a place to buy the best tequilas in the world. There was one man who could share in Araceli’s vision and he was a man with the facility to realise the project. That man was Don Juan Beckmann, President and CEO of Jose Cuervo, and in 2003, as a result of Araceli’s passionate work, the doors of Mundo Cuervo were opened for the first time. Forecast to break even in 2011, the project was so successful its numbers balanced three years ahead of schedule.
Araceli still lives and works in Guadalajara but when she’s not there she is taking the message of tequila and Mexico abroad in her new role as Jose Cuervo Public Relations Director although she travels to La Rojeña Distillery in Tequila as often as she can. Home to 27 tequila distilleries and with about 80% of the 50,000 people that live in the town deriving their income from the tequila industry, whether that be from working the fields or in the tourism that has sprung up around it, this is where her heart belongs.
These days Araceli is in charge of the tourism related events that Jose Cuervo sponsors in Mexico. While abroad she hosts tastings and seminars, sharing with groups and visitors, mostly professionals from the tourism industry, what tequila is all about. She also directs and coordinates special events in Tequila for the company directors and family.
At Jose Cuervo, Araceli learnt about tequila and changing the perception of tequila. What inspires her now is creating a greater appreciation of tequila, which she says, provides a vehicle to share her passion for Mexican culture and its people. “I love to talk about our history, our roots, the pride and dignity of the Mexican culture and tequila is that… it is heritage, it is patience, but more than anything, it is the result of the hard work of Mexican hands and a passion for our national drink”.
Like many Mexicans in the tequila industry, Araceli is conscious of the bad reputation the drink had in the seventies and eighties and she is keen to emphasise the importance of drinking tequila in moderation and in a sophisticated manner. She enjoys it neat, on the rocks with a twist of lime or orange. If she’s at a party, she’ll enjoy a cocktail– she loves a Margarita. On Mexican national days, she celebrates with a Bandera (a trilogy of shots in the colours of the Mexican flag), explaining how the lime (green) is a slightly medicinal, and the sangrita (red) acts as a great chaser after the tequila (white).
Asked who her hero of tequila is, Araceli does not hesitate in her response: “Don Juan Beckmann”, the ninth generation leader of Jose Cuervo, which has been in the same family since it was founded by Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo in 1795. She admires him for the work he has done for the tequila community and industry, his love for Mexico and for turning Jose Cuervo back into a 100% Mexican controlled company. If you enquire of Araceli what she does with her spare time, she just laughs and tells how she went to renew her driving license recently and when asked her blood type, replied “tradicional 40%”.
A few years ago, Araceli noticed a change - the world had begun to address her as Doña Araceli. “It is a privilege that makes you feel special, unique and very proud”. There was no great moment or ceremony when this title was awarded, it was simply an organic age-old Mexican transition that came about because Araceli had, through her work, commitment and contribution to tequila and Mexico, came to deserve this title of respect.