In most wine-growing districts of Spain, the harvest festival begins on the feast of St Matthew (21 September). In Jerez the Fiestas de la Vendimia starts officially on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.
The area of wine production known as the Serrania de Ronda forms part of the DO Sierras of Malaga, producing what are popularly known as 'the Ronda Wines'. Here modern bodegas at over 750m altitude in the Serrania de Ronda produce young red wines from Romé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo. Their white wine varieties include Chardonnay, Macabeo, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc.
Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María form a triangle of generous land where the vine has reigned from time immemorial. Some of the earth's most singular wines are produced here.
In most wine-growing districts of Andalucia and Spain, the vintage or grape harves begins on the feast of St Matthew (21st September). In Jerez it starts officially on 8th September, the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. The first grapes may be picked a week or two early, especially if the weather has been very dry and sunny. The harvest lasts about a month.
The museum, which was opened in 2008, takes you through the history of wine in Malaga province, which is famous for its moscatel, sweet dessert wine. Apart from Jerez's sherries, Malaga's moscatel is probably Andalucia's most famous wine.
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.
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.