Jerez de la Frontera - Sherry Bodegas

Climb aboard the Gonzalez Byass Bodega tour train.

Sherry BodeGas - Winery tours

The white chalky soil of the Jerez area, 'albariza,' is ideal for the cultivation of Palamino grapes which produce the sherry for which Jerez is so well known. If you arrive at Jerez airport, as you leave your plane to walk to the terminal, you will be greeted by wooden sherry barrels piled up decoratively, along with grassy lawns and beautiful flowers, surely one of the most attractive of any Andalucian airports.



The city is the centre of the province's sherry dynasties, such as Domecq and Gonzalez Byass. It is a legacy that dates back some 250 years to when Scottish and Irish entrepreneurs, decided to set themselves up in the wine trade. Soon after, several French families established wine businesses in the area, including Pemartin, Lustau and Delage. Although no one can contest the foreign origins of most sherry families, over the years they have developed into a truly Spanish (though Anglophile) aristocracy. Today large multinational companies also exercise some control over the leading Jerez bodegas.

It is well worth taking a visit to one of Jerez's many sherry 'bodegas' (literally cellar, but also used to mean wine producer and winery), from the mighty Gonzalez Byass, to the smaller ones such as Harveys. You can see how, and where, the five different types of the famous fortified wine are made, usually in huge cathedral-like buildings lined with barrels, including the all-important blending, even the making of the barrels, and then taste them for yourself. By far the most popular sherry here in Spain is the dry, pale straw-coloured fino, which is drunk chilled, and diluted with lemonade to make 'rebujito' at ferias. Foreign tastes tend more towards the cream, such as Harvey's Bristol Cream, which is a blend of oloroso and dried Ximenez grapes. Many of Jerez's bodegas also produce brandy.

For more on the history of sherry click here; see this page for how sherry is made; and here to read about the different types of sherry. The Mystery of Jerez section of the new Atalaya museum in calle Cervantes is dedicated to sherry (the other part is, rather bizarrely, about watches and clocks).

You can also visit sherry bodegas in nearby Sanlucar de Barrameda, the only place where manzanilla sherry is made (Cigarrera, Barbadillo, Hidalgo La Gitana) and El Puerto de Santa Maria (Osborne, of the famous roadside bulls, which are themselves made here, among others). These other two towns, both on the coast, along with Jerez, form the Sherry Triangle.

For more information on sherry click here.

Garvey Bodegas Gonzalez Byass Bodegas
Situated on the edge of the city, with its vineyards stretching for miles behind the bodega, this company was founded by William Garvey. more> Located in the heart of the city, this is the largest of Jerez's bodegas - the sizeable ones are all like small towns, complete with named streets. more>
Harveys Bodegas Pedro Domecq
Harveys Bristol Cream is still the best-selling sherry in the world. The company dates from 1796, when it was founded by John Harvey in, you guessed it, Bristol. Throughout the 19th century Harvey imported sherry from Spain to UK, and distributed it around the world.more> Also located in the city centre, it features a 16th-century former convent whose cloisters and orange-tree-lined patio are now used for events. There is also a garden from 1823.more>
Sandeman Bodegas William & Humbert Bodegas
Sandeman is best know for its 'Don' logo. A dark, dramatic, Zorro-like figure, dressed like a typical caballero de Jerez in his cape and wide-brimmed hat, holding a glass of ruby-red port, he was originally designed by Scottish artist George Massiot Brown in the 1920s. more> One of the less well-known bodegas, this was founded in 1877 by Alexander Williams and Arthur Humbert. It is now owned by Spanish company Medina. more>