A father and daughter from San Francisco teamed up to create a mezcal brand. Two years in, they’re racking up awards.

In just under two years, a mezcal brand run by a San Francisco father and daughter has already made a big splash on the spirits scene. Partnering with mezcal makers in Mexico to bring their spirits here, Jeff and Sydney Block’s Catedral de mi Padre brand has won more than 25 awards since it debuted, including best-in-show mezcal at the 2023 L.A. Spirits Awards and a double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2023.

They offer six mezcals made from different varieties of agave: Espadín, Tobalá, Madre Cuishe, Mexicano and two blends. Now they’re telling their story.

Q. What’s your Mexico-San Francisco connection?

Jeff: We’re from San Francisco, but our family ended up with a house in Oaxaca and spent an increasing amount of time there over the years (and) still have strong ties to the community.

Q. How did Catedral de mis Padres start?

Sydney: We never thought we were going to be in the spirit business and have no background in that, but we fell in love as a family with Oaxaca and Mexico — the food, people, crafts, arts and, obviously, the mezcal.

Jeff: As a new brand, coming to market with six expressions from six different makers is wildly challenging. We  (wanted) to get the best of the best. We spent a lot of time on the roads and mountains of Oaxaca finding the right partners. In the end, it really paid off.

Sydney: Each of the families we work with is an equity owner in our U.S. brand. There are very few people in the agave space that share equity with distillers. We spent a long time building up the supply chain in a sustainable and ethical way.

Q. What was your goal in finding families to partner with?

Jeff: Quality is paramount. These are all small-scale producers producing 1,000 to 2,000 bottles maximum a month. Coming from San Francisco, we’re especially attuned to our environmental impact and sustainability. When we started this project, it became clear that the demand for wild agave is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on the available plants. If you went to Mexico City five years ago, there wasn’t that much mezcal; it was all tequila.  Now if you go to Mexico City, there’s a mezcal bar on every corner.

The focus is on a lot of the wild agave expressions — you start with espadín, but then you want to try other expressions that (grow) wild. They’re being pulled out of the Oaxaca mountains at a pretty fast pace. It was troublesome to us. It took us two years to find the right partner focused on cultivating wild agave species. They can all be grown, but nobody had been doing it. We’ve got 30 acres now of wild agave — 10,000 or 15,000 plants — and we’re planting more and more every year.

Catedral de mi Padre is a craft mezcal brand run by father-daughter duo Jeff and Sydney Block that debuted in July 2022 and has been on an award-winning streak ever since. (Courtesy Catedral de mi Padre) 
Jeff and Sydney Block are a father-daughter duo with San Francisco roots who run Catedral de mi Padre, a craft mezcal brand. (Courtesy Catedral de mi Padre) 

Q. What was it about mezcal and Oaxaca that made you so excited to pursue this?

Jeff: We used to go to a little palenque (a mezcal distillery in Oaxaca) where we lived. About five years ago, we were driving up to the dirt parking lot in front of the distillery, and there was a card table set up on a Sunday afternoon. There were people in their 80s with a bottle of mezcal and copitas, sipping their afternoon away, laughing, and it just seemed so magical. As you get deeper into mezcal, you realize it’s a spiritual spirit for the people of Oaxaca. It’s for good times, bad times, weddings and funerals.

Q. Your bottles are very distinctive…

Jeff: Each of our bottles is adorned with a leather addition on the bottom — we call them our cowboy boots. The leather is sustainably and ethically sourced and hand-sewn and glued to each bottle. It’s meant to exemplify and mirror the mezcal on the inside, because it’s a truly artisanal product.

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Q. What made you decide to work together as father and daughter?

Sydney: We were so inspired by the multigenerational tradition in Oaxaca and fell in love with a spirit that not only brings families together but brings communities together.  I launched the brand with my dad, when I was 26. While most of my peers throughout my 20s had a different take on alcohol— they were drinking to get drunk — I was inspired by this thought that a spirit is a spiritual experience that connects you to the earth and to communities and families. We’re really grateful and thankful for the experiences we’ve had thus far and hope to continue sharing our passion for mezcal and the beautiful tapestry that is all of the traditions of mezcal.

Q. What does the future look like?

Sydney: We are one of the most awarded mezcals in the country right now. We’re predominantly focused on California and New York, which are our two biggest markets. We’ve got our toe in the water in Florida, as well as D.C.

Q. Cinco de Mayo is coming up. Can you recommend a cocktail recipe?

A. To make a Catedral Paloma, combine 2 ounces of Espadín Catedral mezcal, 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice, 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup and 1/4 ounce chareu (aloe liqueur). Salt the rim and serve it with an expressed grapefruit peel or rosemary stem.

Details: Catedral de mis Padres mezcal is available at retailers, bars and restaurants throughout the Bay Area; catedralmezcal.com/home.

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