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The Contreras family have been ranching the land in Aconchi, Sonora for generations and continue to do so. Their ranch is in the middle of Bacanora country and is a pristine habitat not so different from when the family settled there 5 generations ago. From 1915-1992 alcohol was prohibited in Sonora so the Contreras family, like many others, took to clandestine distillation. This forced Vinateros to make various compromises in order to avoid the law.  

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Through the 1990’s, after the prohibition was lifted,  the Contreras family began marketing their Bacanora locally. In early 2000, Roberto Sr. and Roberto Jr. created the brand Rancho Tepúa.  With a commitment to quality, they were determined in leading the category back to its former glory. They believe in a rising tide and over the years they have donated older stills to friends.  In 2011 they were the first to legally export Bacanora to the U.S. and in 2016 the first in Europe.  They have a great passion for the art and craft of distillation. Historically working with only estate grown agave, they have been buying agave from southern ranchers since the devastating frosts of 2010.  Their pursuits continue to bring new knowledge - they now only replant on south facing parts of the ranch. Soon they will be able to return to 100% estate grown agave. In 2020 they began to explore beyond Bacanora with the release of their first batches of Lechuguilla and Palmilla.



Bacanora, the spirit of Sonora, must be made with Agave Pacifica. The Contreras Family have a rich history with Bacanora production, including being the first to legally import it into the United States.



Spirits made from the Dasylirion plant in Sonora are called Palmilla. This spirit is wonderful for food pairings and is an excellent example of the diversity of the Dasylirion plant.



Made in the same fashion as Rancho Tepúa Bacanora but with a different agave - Agave Shrevei. Two other main type of agave are used for Lechuguilla - A. Palmeri in the north and A. Bovicornuta in the south.



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Bacanora must be made with Agave Pacifica, pictured here. Rancho Tepúa Lechuguilla is made with Agave Shrevei, which is smaller with larger leaves (pencas). Palmilla is made with the sotol, or Dasylirion, plant.

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A mechanical mill chops the cooked agave.



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Harvesting on their ranch in the mountains is strenuous work and done with axes and machetes. The agave are carried out by donkey.

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Seen here are three of the stainless steel fermentation tanks used by Rancho Tepúa.

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Mesquite wood is used as fuel, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the region. The earthen oven pictured is in the shape of a cylinder and lined with stone.

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Copper pot stills with a cone shaped lid called a sombrero. Distillation is done two times.

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