Hero Worship 2010 | Santiago Gonzalez | La Vida | Phoenix

See: a video interview with Santiago Gonzalez.

Santiago Gonzalez is one of the good guys, and not just because his family produces 3 Amigos Tequila — a delicious, smooth tequila made exclusively from blue agaves untouched by pesticides.

Sure, the taste rivals any of the top-shelf tequila brands out there — and costs way less — but Gonzalez isn't my hero for that. Well, not just that. He's the kind of guy who cares about integrity, hard work, and above all else, family.

Attitudes like his are in short supply these days.

Gonzalez was just a boy when he moved to Phoenix from Mexico in 1968. In the mid-'80s, he and his brothers started G Farms with 200 acres on which to grow watermelons, onions, potatoes, corn, and alfalfa. Now, they farm more than 4,000 acres and have a couple of side businesses — including a family-owned distillery in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where they handcraft and bottle 3 Amigos Tequila.

His family's business ventures have suffered with the economic downtown, but he forges on, confident that better times are ahead.

"It isn't about the money," Gonzalez says. "It's about a good quality product. My father would always tell us that you don't want to die rich. You want to live rich." — Monica Alonzo

New Times staff writer Monica Alonzo, who swore off tequila until she met the three amigos, interviewed Santiago Gonzalez on August 14 at his El Mirage ranch.

I love Phoenix because this is where we came in when we came from Mexico. I was 11 years old. I fell in love with the state. This is home.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and become a pilot. But here I am. I am a farmer and a tequila maker.

While I am driving, I think about all my family and I thank God, mainly because of everything we have and all our blessings.

Phoenix could use more tequila, for sure. And could be a little easier on Mexicans.

Phoenix could use less crime and a lot less prejudice.

You know you've had too much tequila when you start talking too much.

Never drink tequila without your three friends.

My favorite crop is, believe it or not, watermelons. Second is agave.

I love the smell of wet dirt, because I'm a farmer and the dirt is God's gift and we eat off the dirt. The land feeds us.

I would love to spend the whole day with my wife.

My hero is my father. He was a man who had a lot of foresight, and he had a lot of love for people. He was a wonderful man.

Right before I go to bed, I thank God for my family and for friends and for all the blessings.

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