Bodegas, Jerez de la Frontera
The part of the sherry making process which most Bodegas show to visitors is known as the Solera. Sherry is the ultimate blend and this process is the blending and maturation of the wines in wooden oak casks. A matured cask of sherry will consist of a wine from several years, the new wine from each year is added into the maturation, or Solera, system.
Most bodegas will also show visitors a specially adapted cask into which you can see the wine and on the surface will be a rather strange looking white growth known as Flor, a kind of yeast. This covers the wine, keeping it nice and pale, and a wine left with a thick coat of Flor will usually eventually become a pale dry “Fino” sherry. If a darker style of sherry is required the Flor can be killed by the addition of alcohol, thus an “Amontillado” sherry, (tawny red-brown in colour) or an “Oloroso” sherry (dark rich brown) will be produced.
My favourite is the rather unusual dry Oloroso style – all sherries are originally dry wines. The sweetening and other treatments are done later according to the eventual market for the wine. In the UK an Oloroso sherry will almost always be a sweet, dark wine, and then, just to confuse things, there are the sweet cream Fino sherries as well, both these styles of sherry are quite different from the original.
Jerez is world famous for its sherry, and the best known names all have cellars here.
According to the Jerez town web site, there are 19 bodegas in and around Jerez that can be visited. Some of the lesser known ones are by appointment only, but the best known ones run regular guided tours that you don’t need to book.
Try Gonzalez Byass, Sandeman, Pedro Domeque, Alvaro Domeque or Grupo Garvey.
Jerez is full of Bodegas, and you should at least visit one or two. Most of them offer visited guided tours in different langueages with sherry tasting, and this is a good way to learn more about the makeing and history of sherry. All of them can have a shop where you can buy merchandising things and sherry bottles, if you like. We visited 2 Bodegas, which we were told would be the nicest ones. The Bodega Gonzales Byass is famous for its Tio Pepe Sherry and you have a very nice and informative tour - partly with a little train - through the cellars of the bodega and the company ground. Very enjoyable.
It’s inconceivable to visit Jerez without doing some Sherry tasting, and the most popular Cellar is Tio Pepe’s. Everywhere you look you either see the logo or their sign. The tour is pretty pedestrian and more expensive than I would have thought but at least it included a tasting.
In 1835, young Manuel Maria Gonzalez Angel reached Jerez prepared to forge his way in the prosperous and thriving sherry business. Encouraged by the continuous development of exports, that year he acquired a small cellar and begun to prepare and export his own wine. Shortly after, due to the growing success of his company, Manuel Maria Gonzalez decided to form a partnership with Mr Robert Blake Byass, his agent in England, which gave rise to the Gonzalez Byass company
All through Andalusia, but especially in the area around Jerez, you will find these bull-shaped billboards by the side of main roads.
They belonged to a promotional campaign of Osborne sherry in the past, but when they decided to get rid of the billboards people objected, because the symbol had become part of the Andalusian landscape.
Nice detail. Mind the little blue spot by the tail. Apparently this was too small to cut out, so they decided to paint it in the same colour as the most common background for the billboard --> A perfectly blue sky!
We visited the bodega of GONZALEZ BYASS, more known as TIO PEPE. A guided tour how they make sherry and brandy is very interesting and you pay 8 euro per adult (3,50 euro for child). The tour ends with a degustation of a dry and a sweet sherry and of course the possibility to buy sherry or other souvenirs.
All other bodegas are also located in this area (Sandeman, Domecq, etc)
Since wine is one of my favorite subjects I truely enjoyed my visit to a sherry bodega. The large cellars filled with oak casks, the history, the blending of the wine and of course the tasting at the end makes for a fun visit. Other than a couple of good VT member tips I had trouble locating information before my trip so I collected brochures to scan and include with this tip and the next 6 . If you have problems with the resolution let me know.
When in Jerez, you should definitely visit one of the sherry bodegas. We visited Gonzalez Byass, which was a great experience. Some of the bodegas can only be visited with an appointment. For this one, you can simply buy a ticket at the entrance. Of course it is a bit touristy, but nevertheless great fun. Especially when you are lucky and have the sightseeing tour with only a few fellow tourists.
The tourist office in the centre of Jerez provides all necessary information on bodegas and how to visit them.
Gonzales Byass winery (bodega) has a wonderful and interesting tour. It appears that there was a serious problem with mice gnawing into the wine barrels. So to keep them out of the barrels they decided to simply give the mice all the wine they want. What a life!!!
In September 2003, we visited Pedro Domeque. Again, the tour was very interesting, and the tasting samples provided were excellent !
Frequent guided tours during the week.
On our first visit to Jerez in 2001, we visited Sandeman. A most interesting tour was followed by a tasting, and a visit to the shop !
Daily visits in Spanish, English and German.
This is only 12 euros and lasts approx 3 hours. They run regular tours in different languages and there really is no need to book ahead unless you are in a big group !!
The brand name Tio Pepe is for many people better known than Gonzalez Byass. The Tio Pepe sherry that is made by Gonzalez Byass is named after an uncle. "Uncle Pepe - Tio Pepe".