Sherry

Sherry

Few things can beat Sherry as a pre-meal aperitif. Ever since Sir Francis Drake ransacked the port of Cádiz in 1587 and made off with 3,000 barrels of Sherry, the British have been addicted to the stuff, and continue to be the main international clients.

Situated on the edge of the city, with its vineyards stretching for miles behind the bodega, this company was founded by William Garvey. An Irish aristocratic farmer from County Waterford, legend has it that he came to Cadiz in search of sheep, but ended up shipping wine back to the UK.

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. While not as attractive as the other bodegas, in terms of their plant-covered different buildings and patios, it can claim to offer the biggest single-building bodega in the world - a staggering 180,000m2, it stretches as far as the eye can see, and beyond.

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.

Part of any complete Andalucian experience is the tapas bar. There is a wide choice of tapas bars to choose from in Jerez and, naturally, the local fino (sherry) is the usual accompaniment to your traditional bite-size snack.

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. Then, in the 1970s, the company decided to invest in its own bodegas in Jerez.

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.

Although it is a large bodega - as well as being the oldest in Jerez, dating from 1730 - this is smaller than Tio Pepe, and consequently the tour feels more personal. 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.

Their most famous sherry, Tio Pepe (you´ll recognise the logo, a bottle with a red hat and jacket, and a guitar), gives its name to these bodegas. The company dates from 1835, which makes it one of the newer of the great sherry dynasties in Jerez.

Located inland, 20 km from Sanlúcar, Jerez holds worldwide acclaim for its sherry and brandy production. The word Jerez is derived from Arabic and has now become synonymous with the English word ‘sherry’. The city is equally famous for its fine horses as well as Flamenco music and dance.