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.
Wineries are located throughout this region and many of the larger companies offer tours of the facility via guides that explain the processes involved and can answer your questions regarding how wine production differs in Andalucía from that in other parts of Spain and the rest of the world.
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.
With a wine-making tradition spanning more than 2000 years and with more vineyard acreage than any other country in the world, Spain is producing wines of increasingly good quality. There are excellent reds from traditional areas such as Rioja and Navarre, and also from emerging wine-growing regions such as Ribera del Duero and Somontano.
Málaga province has long been famous for its sweet fortified wines, made from the Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez grape varieties. From the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC, the Greeks and Romans to the Moors and later the British, all enthusiastic drinkers of Málaga wines.
Columbus set forth for his historical voyage from the port of Palos, in the western Andalusian province of Huelva. The navigator took with him his dreams of discovery. His crew, who came from Palos and neighbouring Moguer, took more practical things, such as dried tuna, legumes and, of course, a good supply of Huelva wine.
Montilla-Moriles, located in the south of the Andalucian province of Córdoba, is one of the historical wine regions of Spain. The wine here has certain similarities with the Sherry of Jerez, but usually has suffered from the comparison.
There are over 40.000 Hectares of vineyards in Andalucia. Over half of the wine in Andalucia is produced in four "Denominación de Origen" (DO) areas (equivalent to France's Appellation d'origine controllée).
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.
Step out of the Andalusian sunshine. Just follow the crowds through this little doorway, into the cool interior of a typical bodega or wine bar. Multi-coloured tiles line the walls while clay-tiled floors shine with the patina of years of footsteps. Barrels of wine are stacked behind the bar.
One of the delights of living in Andalucía or, indeed, anywhere in Spain is the many excellent pavement cafés and bars and in particular, their delicious coffee and inexpensive prices. Few countries (if any) can match Spain for the variety, quality and economy of its watering holes.
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.
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.