My name is Jovanny Ortega

Jovanny Ortega

Jovanny Ortega

Guest Writer

This post is part of a series celebrating Latino culture during the month of November.  It represents a collaboration between Das Tor and Latin America Business Club in honor of Regional Night – Fall 2021.

My name is Jovanny Ortega, I am 28 years old, and I am originally from El Terrero, Namiquipa, Chihuahua. During the first decade of my life, my story takes place in this town, which is located in the mountainous part of the state. Temperatures drop to -18 degrees Celsius (-.04 degrees Fahrenheit), and heavy snowfall is present almost every year. This region is also known for being an apple harvesting and cattle region. My childhood was very normal, playing with neighbors and cousins, especially in the summers when we used to go to the Santa María River to swim and eat apples. During the summers, the government also organized summer classes in the local school focused on sports and the arts, which, in my opinion, impacted a whole generation in my town.

My family business focuses on wines and spirits, so I developed a special interest in this industry. When I reached the age suitable to be able to be present in the business, I integrated the degree I studied at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Public Accounting, into the business of my parents.  Through that, I learned about how to manage inventory and human resources, among other topics. 

For a long time, my business ideas included exports and marketing of products. I really couldn’t think of anything I could produce, so my ideas focused on buying and selling. As I began my master’s degree at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, a unit of Arizona State University, I began to investigate a little more about what was happening in the northern region of my  home. We have a wide range of products that even in Mexico are not well known, and an example of this is Sotol, an alcoholic drink that you drink in shots.  From this point, I began my search on what Sotol is, where it came from, how it is produced, how long production takes, and the most essential thing, from whom I could learn how to make it.  My search led me to the city of Aldama, Chihuahua, where I found the teacher Gerardo Ruelas, from whom I have been learning what I know about the industry and whom I thank very much for his trust.

Riablo Sotol, my  brand of sotol,  is an artisanal sotol, which is focused on a young audience. The name comes from the pronunciation in Raramuri of the word Diablo, since in certain Tarahumara communities the sound of the letter D does not exist or was added later after the arrival of the Spaniards, so it is pronounced Riablo. This name was inspired by a game that I played as a child with Tarahumara friends, in which we had to rescue a prisoner on top of a haystack guarded by the Riablo.

Riablo Sotol has two flavors, Sotol Blanco, which is made with the spoon yuca plant, for those who want to enjoy and taste the natural flavor of sotol. The second, Piña Brava, is smooth and slightly sweet, having the flavors of pineapple with chiltepín peppers. This one was developed according to my preferences, since I really like sweets. Younger generations, in which I include myself, look for alcoholic beverages that contain flavors like this that sometimes have slightly lower alcohol content.

Little by little, I have been developing what my brand is; great people have supported me along the way. Mr. Sergio Inurrigarro is one of these people. I have learned a lot by taking his course to become a Master Mezcallier, as the process of producing mezcal is equally applied to that of sotol. 

Ultimately, it is important to disseminate and create awareness of this industry that belongs to the north of my country, Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila, and that still remains somewhat unknown. I am confident that we will soon see it more present in the market, and to achieve this, we must create that recognition. 



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