Santa María Zoquitlán is a village of roughly 1,600 people, set within a wondrous territory of rugged ridgelines and sweeping river basins, southeast of Santiago Matatlán. This small town is cradled by two converging river valleys and flanked with steep hillsides studded with rare agaves In the dry season, the rugged, brown vegetation blends into the rocky cliffs behind. After the rains, the region takes on a verdant hue, thanks to the rising, jade-green Zoquitlán River that winds through the valley floor, making the area rich for cultivating a wide variety of sustaining crops. Ignacio Parada, known as Don Chucho, along with his son José Parada Valera, harvest wild and semi-cultivated agaves from the rich, multi-colored mountain soils directly behind their palenque. Don ChuCho was the first mezcalero to join the Casa Cortés collective of producers in 2007. Today, he is proud to be passing along his craft to the next generation as he works side-by-side with his son to produce mezcals for Nuestra Soledad and El Jolgorio.