What better way to start the week than by visiting a winery? Or better yet, three: Fundador Pedro Domecq, Harvey’s, and Terry are all owned by Beam (which also owns the Jim Beam brand). The Jerez-based winery runs four tours Monday to Friday and one on Saturday, at the reasonable price of €8 per person. We chose to join the last tour of the day, at 1pm, and were joined by just two other people. Since there are so many tours each day, group sizes are small, and our guide Manuel told us that if a lot of people come at once, they’ll split into two groups.
Duration: 90 minutes
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am, 11am, 12pm, and 1pm. Saturday 12pm. Tour with tasting and tapas Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2pm. Extra tours in the afternoon in spring and autumn.
Address: Calle San Ildefonso, 3, Jerez
More info: bodegasharveys.com
After a short video, Manuel led us out the main gates of the winery and through a locked gate into the Patio de las Parras, which was more a walkway than a patio. In fact, it used to be a regular city street until it was closed off for a royal visit. We stopped in the shade and Manuel gave us a short history lesson about the winery, which is the oldest in Jerez, before leading us inside the cellars. There, Manuel explained the difference between the three main types of sherry (fino, amontillado, oloroso) with the aid of barrels equipped with glass tops, and explained the process of sherry production. We wandered through the aisles of dark stacked barrels and stopped to smell five different sherries while checking out the barrels signed by famous visitors.
Next, we learned about brandy, and got to smell brandy at various stages of its life-cycle. It starts life as a strong grape spirit and is then left in ex-sherry barrels for some time — it was amazing to see how much the colour of the liquid changes depending on how long it’s in the barrel for.
Our tour finished in the winery bar. Manuel pulled out two types of sherry (including the famous Harvey’s Bristol Cream) and two types of brandy, and set them on the table in front of us for us to try. I would have liked to have tried some of the other sherries we’d smelled earlier in the tour, but four tastings is a fair amount. We sipped away while chatting with our tour mates, free to stay as long as we wanted — a perfect end to a pleasant tour.