I am not usually one to join Commercial Tours, but as we were in Jerez de la Frontera I thought we should make an exception…particularly as the owners of the famous Gonzalez Byass Bodegas was opening especially for our group despite it being a Sunday morning.
I am pleased we did. Not only was our host and guide a member of the family but the tour itself was certainly a cut above many others. The Bodegas founded in 1835 was built round and within the old town, swallowing up village houses as it expanded.
Undoubtedly the lasting memory is of row after row of tar blackened Oak barrels and as we moved round the Bodegas the a distinctive sweet smell of sherry, getting stronger as one discovered areas of very old wines. Row after row of barrels, and there were thousands, would perhaps seem rather boring but not here as each area had a little bit of history and fame.
Over the centuries the Royalty, the Rich and Famous have trod the same steps as we, the difference being in that they added their ‘autographs’ to barrels of Sherry that would be forever theirs and their families.
The Old Blending Laboratory has been left as it was, untouched apart from layers of dust.
Then there are the Royal Collections. Giant casks each with its Royal Crest and nor is the Royal Collection limited to the Spanish Monarchs but also the British Royal Family have their own collection.
As with all tours there is the ubiquitous Shop….but with the offer of tastings of all the blends of Sherry it was not much of a hardship….we even staggered out with a few bottles, that and the unique aroma, nice memories for home .
(C) David Oakes 2018