Winery may produce first true American tequila

Those who follow the adult beverage industry know the occasional battle erupts over the use of such terms as "champagne," "Scotch whisky" and "vodka." The next tussle shaping up could well be over the use of the term "tequila."

Presently, only spirits distilled from pure or high-percentage blue agave plants in the Mexican state of Jalisco and several adjacent spots can be called tequila. That's the Mexican government's stance and it is adhered to worldwide.

Now, however, a Hollister, CA, entrepreneur who already has a successful winery, Leal Vineyards, and has been making tequila from imported agave is eyeing an American tequila. He has planted 10 acres of blue agave in the hills near Gilroy, an area known as the "Garlic Capital of the World."

Frank Leal (above) attracted notice last year when he won two gold medals and one silver at the Spirits of Mexico competition in San Diego for his Tequila 5150, which he aged in repurposed wine barrels. He won a medal each for his three styles of the 100% blue agave spirit: aƱejo, aged 13 months; reposado, aged seven months, and unaged blanco.

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