Arts / Galleries

The Intentional Bond Between Casa Dragones Tequila and the Judd Foundation

The Collaboration Helps Spread the Good Word About the Texas Art Haven

BY // 11.17.23

Every design-inclined Texan should make the journey to Marfa at some point, but if you can, try to visit during Chinati Weekend, an art-filled experience of music, talks, and special exhibitions started by the late, great Donald Judd in 1987. And if at all possible, try to visit with the team from Casa Dragones, a tequila brand that’s forged an indelible connection with the West Texas art community and the beloved desert town.

Everyone you’ll encounter during the laid-back weekend is warm, but they light up when you mention you’re with the luxury tequila brand, known for its unique tasting notes, exquisitely hand-engraved bottles, and its CEO, Mexico’s first official female master distiller Bertha González Nieves. Tequila is generally hard to resist, but since its founding in 2009, Casa Dragones has ascended to a rarified category of luxurious, in-the-know spirits. Case in point: one of the brand’s signature blue boxes was used as a gift of “top-of-the-line tequila” in the second season of And Just Like That… — a placement that was reportedly a surprise to the company.

But unlike most brand partnerships, the relationship between Casa Dragones and the Judd Foundation feels genuine. That’s due in part to the no-frills nature of the city — Marfa feels entirely opposed to artifice. But it’s also the result of a long, intentional collaboration.

“The Judd Foundation and Ballroom Marfa embraced us early on,” González Nieves shares. “Since then, I’ve developed real, incredible relationships with Fairfax Dorn [of Ballroom Marfa] and Rainer Judd [daughter of Donald]. We came together in a city that is telling such a unique story of American art.”

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A welcome BBQ at the home of Fairfax Dorn, co-founder of Ballroom Marfa.

That connection was on display throughout the weekend, which included many events at which Casa Dragones was poured. It’s also evidenced year-round at the Judd Foundation’s newly planted and open-to-the-public Agave Garden, featuring two wooden benches designed by Judd and a variety of native plants.

“The idea of doing this together with the Judd Foundation is to awaken the interest of the visitor in the study of agave, this incredible plant that lives between Mexico and Texas,” explains González Nieves. “Marfa is a city of inspiration. It’s a city that tells the story of what’s possible.”

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González Nieves dreams of bridging the gap between the U.S. and Mexico (Casa Dragones is based in San Miguel de Allende). “Marfa is right at the heart of that,” she notes. “How do we expose the legacy of all of these incredible organizations to people in Mexico who are studying? How can we bring the inspiration that happens in Marfa to new generations?”

Tequila, oddly enough, may be just the way to get the word out nationally about the little Texas town. Last year, Martha Steward shared a story with The New York Times about how she introduced the brand to her friends in Seal Harbor, Maine after discovering it in Marfa. “Now, when I ask for a glass of Casa Dragones,” Stewart told the paper, “no matter where I go, it’s there.”

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A VIP reception for Ballroom Marfa at The Capri in Marfa.

And no matter where we went, the tequila was there as well. Ahead, relive some of the more intimate gatherings of the weekend, including a stunning welcome BBQ at the home of Fairfax Dorn, co-founder and artistic director of Ballroom Marfa, and a VIP dinner at The Capri on the Friday eve of Saturday’s big gala.

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