FROM THE WIRES...
100-Point Napa Valley Vintner’s 100% Additive-Free, Sub-$100 Tequila
Sells for $10,000 in its Debut Auction
NAPA VALLEY, Calif. (November 1, 2023) — With its eye-catching label, elegant flavor profile and jaw-dropping auction debut, El Negocio Tequila was turning collectors’ heads months before its official release. A pure, 100% additive-free sipping tequila made by a third generation Master Distiller and conceived by a 100-point Napa Valley vintner, the first preview bottle of El Negocio sold for a staggering $10,000 at auction – a remarkable feat for a $90 bottle. Today, that premiere vintage of El Negocio officially arrives in the United States.
El Negocio, which means “The Business” in Spanish, was founded by Napa Valley vintner Adam Craun and entrepreneur Nicholas Lutz. Craun, a classically trained artist, philanthropist and co-founder of the cult powerhouse Memento Mori, is now focused on bridging the two worlds of fine wine and tequila. Though the flavor profiles could hardly be more different, El Negocio underscores the unbridled edge of tequila with a nuanced restraint and deference to terroir more commonly associated with collector-worthy wine.
“El Negocio represents the apex of our three most defining passions – pure, authentic, additive-free tequila, benchmark wine, and sleek, modern design,” said Lutz. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to launch this label starting with our Blanco, and there is still so much more to come.”
For Craun and Lutz, there was only one Jalisco Valley partner they ever wanted to work with – Master Distiller Salvador Rosales Trejo, better known as “Chava.” His grandfather was the tequilero who founded Fabrica de Tequila El Cascahuín in the town of El Arenal, and today Chava is among a very small handful of producers making tequila with traditional methods to protect the rich heritage around it.
While most mass-produced tequilas are made using the sweeter Jalisco highlands agave, Chava, Craun and Lutz chose the more traditional Zona Valles terroir in the Jalisco lowlands. This region produces extremely limited quantities of Blue Weber Agave, and its mineral-rich volcanic soil, known as tierra negra, imparts more sophisticated, savory notes to the tequila. Known as the Tequilana Weber, the Blue Weber is smaller than its highland cousins, and the result is a more vivid concentration of flavor. It is this very agave that is responsible for El Negocio’s meticulously crafted, premiere vintage Blanco release.
The piña of the Tequilana Weber is cooked in a brick oven, extracted using 30% tahona stone wheel and 70% roller mill techniques. While the rustic tahona method is not the most efficient, it produces more floral, aromatic results that maintain the integrity of the agave flavor. The pulp is then fermented in stainless steel and is double distilled in a copper pot. Due to the rare agave that goes into El Negocio, the small-batch tequila is produced in very limited runs, with just 700 cases produced.
The Blanco is 40% ABV and debuts at $90 per 750ml bottle.
El Negocio is officially confirmed Additive Free by Tequila Matchmaker, a designation that was a non-negotiable for Craun and Lutz from the start, and equally important to Chava with every tequila he makes at El Cascahuín.
Craun says, “According to Tequila Matchmaker, over 94% of tequila consumed in the United States comes from distilleries that use additives like syrup and coloring to make one homogenized flavor profile, masking changes that naturally occur from year to year. Our fine-wine roots taught us to embrace these nuances. We work hand in hand with Chava, who also believes in celebrating each vintage as a true and unique expression. Our additive-free tequila honors the traditions passed down across his family’s three generations of master distillers. At El Negocio, we want the artisanal nature of tequila making to show through, just like it does across the vintages of a fine wine.”
The sleek El Negocio label was designed by Craun and Lutz, featuring a bold handshake between a man and a skeleton, meant to represent its namesake while nodding to Memento Mori’s Danse Macabre ethos and imagery. The insignia is framed by a snake eating its tail, which represents Ouroboros – a symbol used throughout history that represents the infinite cycle of life, death and rebirth. As a nod to serious collectors and tequila aficionados, every bottle from El Negocio’s premiere vintage is individually numbered for authenticity.
The founders are as concerned with El Negocio’s sustainability as they are with its origins and purity. Nodding to Cascahuín’s use of deep well water, the label has partnered with Charity Water, committing $1 from every bottle of El Negocio that is sold to the international organization’s commitment to building clean and safe wells for drinking water around the world.
El Negocio’s deep connection to wine and its Memento Mori sister label will grow more visible later this fall, when El Negocio’s first two French oak-aged expressions arrive. Also certified additive-free, both the Reposado ($120) and Joven ($200) benefit from time spent aging in barrels previously used to age Memento Mori, imparting the nuanced sophistication that has helped earn the Napa Valley label’s $300+ wines a cult following and 100-point critical acclaim. Blanco Rosa, Añejo and Extra Añejo releases are also on the horizon once they complete their barrel-aging process.
About El Negocio
El Negocio is a pure, 100% additive-free tequila label founded by entrepreneurs Adam Craun and Nicholas Lutz. The label debuted in fall 2023 with the release of El Negocio Blanco Tequila (SRP $90), after a preview bottle sold for $10,000 at a top Napa Valley auction. El Negocio is made by third-generation Master Distiller Chava Rosales at his family’s Fabrica de Tequila El Cascahuín – among Jalisco’s very small handful of producers that are making additive-free tequila the traditional way. With foundational ties to Memento Mori, Napa Valley’s cult, 100-point Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, El Negocio is singularly focused on bridging the worlds of fine wine and tequila. For more information on El Negocio or to join the mailing list, please visit elnegociotequila.com.