Enrique Fonseca Cerda was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and raised an hour’s drive east of that state capital in the highland mountain town of Atotonilco el Alto. Following grade school, Enrique studied Visual Arts as well as English for several years in Toronto, Canada, before returning to Mexico where he earned his professional degree from the renowned Guadalajara University of Architecture.
An adolescence spent by his father’s side in the agave fields of Atotonilco prevailed over his potential career in architecture, however, and after college Enrique returned to his study and pursuit of all things agave related. And so it was that work begun in Atotonilco’s agave fields in the early 20th century by Enrique’s great-grandfather would continue through a fourth generation of Fonseca family farmers.
With youthful vigor and determination, Enrique expanded the family’s agave plantings to satisfy an ever-growing demand for rich, highland agave by Jalisco’s largest tequila distilleries. When those same distilleries later colluded to limit the prices they would pay farmers for their agave, Enrique became determined to wean his fate off of international liquor conglomerate’s increasingly exploitive agave purchasing strategies, and decided to buy his own distillery. He soon found a great one for sale, when the Bacardi Corporation sold him their Tequileña distillery located in the eponymous town of Tequila, Jalisco.
The Tequileña distillery would serve Enrique well in his education about various still types and production methods. The purchase included a copper double-column still, and both stainless steel as well as copper pot alembic stills. To that essential equipment, Enrique added agave roasting ovens, fermentation tanks and a number of barrel facilities. Today the modern Tequileña distillery stands as one of the finest in the tequila industry.
From a legacy of more than one hundred years’ agave cultivation and twenty-five years in tequila distillation, Enrique Fonseca now stands over one of the tequila industry’s largest private agave holdings in addition to possessing one of the largest stocks of superlative very old tequilas.
A native Californian, Jake Lustig spent much of his youth in Mexico, where as a teenager he worked as a translator and tour guide for visitors to the remote southern region of Oaxaca. When tequila’s popularity began to boom in the late 1980’s, Jake added mezcal distilleries to his artisan village tours.
In working with these remote Oaxacan distilleries, Jake learned of the nuances in agave distillation and eventually began a small business selling quality mezcal to neighbors and visiting travelers. In 1995, with his work by now focused wholly on mezcal distilleries and production, Jake partnered with an 11-generation distillation family, the Arellanes family, to renovate the family’s Destilería Real de Minas, and launched a newly created mezcal brand, Don Amado Mezcal. Following a couple of years of distillation and brand development work in Mexico, in 1997 the team began exporting the Don Amado Mezcal brand abroad to begin develop foreign markets.
Having established experience in production and mezcal brand development, in 1998 Jake began work in the tequila business with the launch of Espolón Tequila for the brand’s creator, Raúl Plascencia of Arandas, Jalisco, and Haas Brothers of San Francisco. With experience now in various tiers of the trade, in 2000 Jake was hired by Southern Wine & Spirits as the company’s first Latin Market Specialist, which position he’d hold for the next decade. In this capacity Jake worked in the development of many famous global spirits brands, which included a variety of tequilas, rums, brandies and Scotch whiskies from Mexico and around the world.
In 2010, Jake returned to Haas Brothers as the 160 year-old San Francisco firm’s Director of Sales and Marketing. While building and managing a national network of independent distributors for the company, the role also entailed assembling and maintaining a portfolio of world-class, best-of-category spirits brands. With an interest in developing sales and marketing of these same spirits brands in the global arena, in 2017 Jake partnered with friend and colleague, Enrique Fonseca, to create Terranova Spirits.