Hollywood hasn’t yet come calling for the movie rights to Don Julio González’s life story, but it would certainly be fertile ground—like the red-clay soil the man toiled in for decades—for any screenwriter.
The pivotal scene occurred in 1942, when González was still very young. He approached the wealthiest merchant in the Mexican town of Atotonilco, Jalisco, and told the man he wanted to open his own distillery. “You must be crazy!” said the merchant. “How are you going to get the money to do that?” Young Julio took a beat and replied, “You are going to lend it to me.”
And so it came to pass, like most of the goals González set for himself during his long, cinematic life: The rich man loaned him 20,000 pesos and Julio got to work establishing his own distillery. He would go on to revolutionize the tequila industry. Below you’ll find 12 more highlights from a remarkable life we’d bet a Tinseltown blockbuster’s budget you didn’t know about.