Tucson’s Agave Heritage Festival Returns This Month

The 2022 Agave Heritage Festival is a four-day action packed adventure into the world of the agave.  Featuring over 20 distinctive events from Apr. 28-May 1, it is a festival like no other.  The diverse offerings at the Agave Heritage Festival attract a broad variety of interest from the public sector, as well as from the industry, conservation experts, cultural authorities and more.  The opportunities for learning, tasting and exploration of the centuries old culture of the agave are many. 

When the Festival first appeared on the scene as the Agave Fest in 2008, little did the founding committee at Hotel Congress know how prescient their shining a spotlight on the Agave plant would be.  In the years since, the agave universe has taken on a worldwide fascination, pushing the growth of the industry directions none could have imagined.  The number of artisanal and ancestral agave spirits offered at the first event has almost tripled since then and the Agave Fest has grown from a one-day Cinco de Mayo tequila lover’s fiesta to a multi-day Heritage Festival focused on sustainability, and the historical, cultural, and commercial significance of the agave plant across borders. 

Something for every age, interest and taste can be found at the festival. Many events offer free admission, tickets for others can be purchased at www.agaveheritagefestival.com.   Some not-to-be-missed events are: 

Ignite Agave: Women of Mezcal

April 29 -6-8:30pm, Tucson Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S Church 

In the spirit of Mayahuel the female deity associated with the maguey plant among the cultures of central Mexico, the talented Women who are impacting the world of Mezcal appear together for the first time.  Enjoy a thought-provoking discussion on how women are reshaping the agave industry. Panelists will include Diana Pinzón (Mezcal Zincantan), Kristen Lear (Bat Conservation Intl), Francesca Claverie (Borderlands Conservation Network), Yuan Ji (Erstwhile Mezcal), Lorena Carreño (Mezcal Carreño), Lauren Espinoza, Adriana Torres de la Huerta (Las Mujeres de Bacanora/Maguey Mexico), and Julie Anne Figeraus (Bahnez Mezcal).  The evening begins with live Mariachi entertainment followed by presentations and panel discussion. Free and open to the public.

Agave Fiesta

April 30 – 7-10pm, Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress – Agave Fiesta

This signature event showcases all things agave, presenting over 50 artisanal and ancestral agave spirits by industry experts, an agave cocktail showcase, live music, amazing food, spirits tastings, agave art, and other agave related products.  Price includes 4 agave spirit tastes, 2 beers, 3 cocktails and food paired and created by the Cup Café culinary team.  $50pp

Agave: Spirit of a Nation Screening

April 30 – 12-2pm, The Screening Room, 127 E Congress 

This expressive documentary explores the phenomenon of the fastest trending alcohol spirit in the world, Tequila and Mezcal.  Mexico is home to the highest biodiversity of agave varietals in the world.  Tequila and Mezcal spirits derived from the heart of the agave are the fastest trending spirits in the marketplace.  This film takes viewers beyond the spirit to discover how one plant can carry the weight of a culture and the people trying to protect it. Produced by Digital Cave in association with Habitant Films the feature length documentary tells the story of agave and the Mexican legacy in producing the spirits. FREE and open to the public.

Sons of Mezcal Screening

May 1 -12pm -2pm, Loft Theater, 3233 E Speedway Blvd 

Filmmaker Stephen L. Werk follows four families as they pass their traditions of making mezcal onto the next generation.  Ingrained in the culture of Oaxaca, Mezcal is more than an intoxicating spirit. It is the sacred link that binds modern day Mezcaleros to their ancestors.  Sons of Mezcal transports you into this living history. Post screening Q & A with filmmaker and a panel of industry experts. FREE and open to the public.

La Luna Presents: Agave Roasting Pit Opening and Expo

May 1- 6-8:30pm, Mission Garden, 946 E Mission Lane 

Culminate an amazing weekend of agave education and celebration with the unique, ancestral practice of opening the agave roasting pit.  The evening includes presentations, the opportunity to taste an assortment of La Luna mezcal spirits & cocktails paired with delicious local food prepared by Exo Roast.  Activities will include the opening of the roasting pit, sampling of the agave, music by Eduardo Costa while tasting mezcal, tabletop conversations with Jesus Garcia from Mission Garden Sal Picazo Chavez of La Luna as well as many industry experts.  $65pp before April 1, 2022 & $75pp after April 1, includes 2 drinks (neat pour of mezcal expression and mezcal cocktail with Mission Garden infusion and food (small bites).

Agave Heritage Dinner

May 1- 6-9pm, Maynard’s, 400 N Toole Ave 

Agave Heritage Dinner.  A veritable feast for the palate and the senses, the multi-course meal features delicious mezcal cocktails and neat pour tastes to capture the true essence of how to pair agave spirits and food.  The dinner is a delectable collaborative effort between Brian Smith, Executive Chef at Maynards who is known for his cutting-edge farm to table cuisine, and Aaron DeFeo, Mixologist, James Beard Nominee, owner of Little Rituals in Phoenix, Agave spirits expert, and the driving force behind the original Agave Fest.  Each attendee will also receive an authentic hand crafted Jicara – a mezcal drinking vessel made from the gourd of the calabash fruit, and hand crafted by artisans in Oaxaca, MX.  Price per person is $167 inclusive.  

AGAVE HERITAGE DINNER MENU

Welcome Cocktail & Chapulines

  • Pleasure Island – Lime Leaf Vago Espadin, Rucolino Amaro, Martini & Rossi Rubino, Pomegranate, Fresh lime
  • First: Savory churro, herbs, queso, Mezcal Vago Mexicano neat pour taste
  • Second: Grouper Ceviche, avocado, cherry bomb chili, passion fruit, Mezcal Vago Elote neat pour taste
  • Third: Masa Gnocchi, silki pak, carrots, Spirit Forward Cocktail – Vago Elote, Nixta, Maguey, Amaro Nonino, Celery + Fennel
  • Fourth: E&R Pork Belly, mesquite smoked 90-day corn, turnip, mezcal bbq, Mezcal Vago Special Release neat pour taste
  • Dessert:  Grapefruit Flan, mesquite, mint, Agua Fresca Highball – Vago Espadin – Bonal Aperitif – Melon + Passionfruit soda – Citrus

FESTIVAL SPONSORS

The Agave Heritage Festival is made possible by support from the following sponsors: Visit Tucson, Rio Nuevo, Earth’s Healing, Sysco, Estrella Jalisco, Bahnez Mezcal, Beach Fleischman, UA College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Integrated Axis Group, Montelobos/Ancho Reyes, Bookmans, Mezcal Vago, Mezcal Carreño, La Luna, Cemrock, Crest Insurance, National Bank of AZ, AC Marriott, Hotel McCoy

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