Meet Montagave, the local tequila on the rise |

Meet Montagave, the local tequila on the rise

From Aspen with love: New Montagave tequila combines cultures and an appreciation of the mountains to create a unique addition for your liquor cabinet

Montagave was founded in Aspen by locals John and Lucie Melvin.
Courtesy Caelinn Donahue

Originally crafted for John and Lucie Melvin’s friends and family to enjoy at their wedding as a creative way to symbolize their two cultures coming together, it seems only appropriate to call Montagave tequila the Melvin’s passion project.

With John originally from Texas and Lucie from France (the two met in Aspen while attending a concert at Belly Up) the couple knew they wanted to create something that would bring everyone together at their wedding in Aspen in 2019.

“The idea was like, OK, we can make all of this ourselves … share it with friends and family and have a big party, and it’ll be our Texan family meeting our French family, and we have to drink tequila, but maybe we drink tequila that was rested in French oak wine barrels,” John said.

This idea to combine elements of traditional tequila with something distinctly non-traditional is what sets Montagave apart in a growing tequila market saturated with celebrity-backed bottles.

Montagave spends 30 days in French oak Grand Cru wine barrels, sourced from France and shipped to the distillery in Mexico, which is what gives it a distinctive light rosé color.

The barrels also lend slight fruity notes — think the red berry and stone fruit flavors of a good red wine — to the tequila while still allowing the cooked agave to shine through. It has a sense of creaminess and a light sweetness from the barrels, and as Grover Sanschagrin,on Tequila Matchmaker said, “I guess a tequila can be both simple and complex at the same time,” but overall its a clean, smooth tequila that you can sip. It doesn’t need to be chased or mixed with anything to enjoy.

A perfect pour of Montagave
Courtesy Caelinn Donahue

But finding this balance was a process of trial and error, one that took place in Lucie and John’s living room in the Roaring Fork Valley where the first few batches of Montagave were produced, bottled and shared with friends and family.

“People were super excited about it,” Lucie said.

With constant requests from friends for more bottles, the couple reached out to the Rosales, a family steeped in over 100 years of tequila tradition, to move Montagave from its humble, mountain-distilled beginnings to Mexico to increase production.

For those not entrenched in the world of tequila, the Rosales family is well-respected among tequila enthusiasts and has been making their Cascahuin Tequila since 1904 in Jalisco at their distillery (NOM 1123). In addition to the Rosales’ own brand, the family selectively partners with other, small-scale brands like Montagave to produce tequila.

Lucie and John’s unique pitch to the Rosales was for a product that the historical distillery wasn’t going delve into themselves, and the family agreed to the partnership.

“That was our pitch: You guys aren’t going to go into this realm. You have 100 years of heritage that you’re protecting, but we can come in to the space and create something really fun and high quality and it allows you to take a little bit of risk and it allows us to do something unique with our brand,” John said.

“It’s truly a celebration of both cultures and both perspectives,” he said.

Lucie and John Melvin, the founders of Montagave tequila.
Courtesy Caelinn Donahue

Now, the Melvin’s, who live in Basalt, have even more to celebrate as the first release of their passion project, 3,138 bottles to be exact, arrives on shelves and behind bars across the Roaring Fork Valley this week.

While Montagave is a celebration of cultures — the name itself is comes from the French word for a mountain, “Mont,” and agave as a nod to the traditional tequila ingredient — it is also a celebration of the Roaring Fork Valley.

The tequila is 82 proof, both because the Melvin’s appreciate an over proof and as a wink to Highway 82 that runs through the valley.

The label, which is actually a high quality wine label, is cut with mountain shapes at the top, another Easter egg to where it all started, and features the coordinates for the distillery in Mexico and where they source the Bordeaux barrels from France.

Since Montagave was originally created as a tequila for celebrating and making memories, on the back of the label is a space where you’re intended to fill in when you enjoyed the tequila, who you were toasting with and what you were celebrating, even if it’s something as simple as another day spent in paradise at 7,908 feet.

“By the time you finish this bottle, you look back it’s kind of this journal experience, like, ‘Oh wow, look at all these friends that I hung out with and look at all these amazing times that we had with this bottle,’” John said.

Where to buy

Montagave is primarily direct to consumer, meaning you can order bottles via their website With each batch having a limited run, you’re going to want to move quickly and add to cart now.

If you’re in the Roaring Fork Valley, you’ll be able to buy and taste locally at these locations, with more locations still to come


– Of Grape and Grain

– Aspen Grog Shop

– Carl’s Wine Cellar

– Aspen Wine and Spirits

– Mi Chola

– 7908

– Aspen Pie Shop

– Here House

– Campo De Fiori

– Willow Creek Bistro at The Ritz Carlton


– Jimbo’s Liquors

– Four Dogs Wines & Spirits


– Sopris Liquor & Wine