Cadiz Wine Routes
The Marco de Jerez wine-making region boasts a wide variety of tourist amenities and activities: wine tourism visits and tasting sessions in the wineries, pairing lunches, walks through the vineyards, wine spas, Tai-Chi in the vineyards, visits at night, typical breakfasts, courses and tasting sessions of wines, vinegars and brandies, along with horse and flamenco shows. You will be spoilt for choice when deciding what to do.
Wine is one of the aspects that best reflects a region's culture. The landscape, town planning, festivities or the cuisine itself of traditional wine production areas are greatly conditioned by this culture that is so deep-rooted in Mediterranean countries. The progressive specialisation of wine production over the centuries, would define the different types of wine that are now considered typical of the province of Cadiz. One of them, sherry has become one of the great wines worldwide. Apart from the wide range of types of sherry, there are other wines whose production methods and qualitative characteristics are examples of the great importance that the local inhabitants give to an activity that has always been closely linked to the region's history.
The vine was brought to the region by the Phoenicians, who founded Gadir (Cadiz) in around 1100 B.C. A wine press dating back to the 4th century B.C. has been found at the Doña Blanca archaeological dig, the site of a Phoenician city in the municipal district of El Puerto de Santa María. At that time, it seems that the Jerez region was called Xera and its main city was Asta Regia.
The arrival of the Romans marked the start of an intense period of exporting olive oil, wine and "garum" (an ancient fish sauce) from the province of Betica as this part of Spain was known to the city of Rome and other parts of the Empire. The Xera region was then known as Ceret.
During the more than five centuries that this area was under Muslim rule, Ceret would be known as Šeriš (Sherish); Sherish continued to be an important wine making centre, even though it was forbidden in the Koran. In the 12th century, the Sherish wines were already being exported to English, where they were widely acclaimed and became known as Sherry.
The Sierra de Cádiz wines, red and white wines from Arcos de la Frontera and Prado del Rey, have recently joined the sherry or Jerez wines. The history of the Sierra de Cádiz wines can be traced to some monks of the order of St. Jerome back in the 16th century. There is evidence that those monks made wines with grapes planted in the Sierra de Cadiz mountains. The quality of the wine meant that the region began to grow in fame. It is the first reference to the Pajarete estate. This estate is a large area located between the towns of Prado del Rey and Villamartín right in the heart of the Sierra de Cádiz mountains. The name comes from the Matrera Castle or Pajarete Tower, whose remains can be seen there.
The Cadiz Wine Route, which is one of the province's outstanding tourist attractions, showcases the unusual vineyard landscape, the solid architecture of the wineries and the authentic ageing systems of the most outstanding types of wines. A true personal experience.
THE SHERRY WINE AND BRANDY ROUTE
"If penicillin can cure diseases
sherry can revive the dead"
Jerez is the heart of the region where wine, brandies and vinegars are produced under the following denominations of origin: Jerez-Xérès-Sherry (the different sherries), Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Manzanilla wine), Vinagre de Jerez (Sherry vinegar) and Denominación Específica Brandy de Jerez (Sherry brandy). This region covers over 10,300 hectares nestled between the Atlantic and the Guadalquivir and Guadalete rivers.
This wine-making region, protected by the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry y Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda Denomination of Origin Regulatory Board, is called the Marco de Jerez, and includes the municipal districts of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Chipiona, Trebujena, Rota, Puerto Real, and Chiclana de la Frontera.
Using an age-old tradition that has managed to adapt to new demands, sherry wines are aged in American oak casks in wineries, those sacred hallows of wine, in accordance with the precise rules of a genuine production process, which provides its unique character: the "criaderas" and "soleara" ageing system.
The Jerez vineyards stretch over the gently rolling slopes, with their white "albariza" soil, which is ideal for growing grapes, such as Palomino or Pedro Ximénez, which are used to make the prized wines.
Did you know that wineries along the Sherry Wine and Brandy Route are considered to be so sacred they are known in Spanish as Cathedrals of Wine? Just like their namesakes, they portray the architecture, landscapes and human stories around a winery. And the similarity as a silent place of worship will strike you during your visit.
Brandies, - soleras, grandes soleras and soleras reservadas - protected by the Brandy de Jerez (Sherry Brandy )Regulatory Board, are produced in the leading wineries in the "Ageing Zone" of the "Marco de Jerez". This distilled drink is made using the eau-de-vie called "holanda", which is then aged using the criaderas and soleras process, which provides the colour, essences, balsamic resins and extracts of the oak wood until the correct quality is obtained.
Sherry vinegar is likewise protected by its specific Regulatory Board, the only one to exist in Spain for this type of winery product, and aged to produce "sherry vinegar" and "reserva sherry vinegar" using the traditional solera systems. It is particular sought after as a culinary ingredient, thanks to its specific concentration of aromas and flavours.
Jerez de la Frontera-Trebujena
Few places in Spain enjoy the international recognition of Jerez, as the name of this city spread beyond our borders thanks to its "jerez or sherry" wine, the bull-fighting and equestrian tradition, flamenco and motor racing. It will be the starting point of this unique route, where apart from discovering the city's most iconic aspects, you can visit and enjoy at first-hand the world of wine, its landscapes, aromas and tastes.
A trip through this wine region has to start in the city of Jerez de la Frontera, the economic centre of the wealthy local countryside and home to the most important wineries in the "marco" of its same name. Apart from its impressive list of monuments, including many religious buildings and sumptuous palaces built by the land owners and wine trade bourgeoisie, the city of Jerez is famed for the unusual architecture of its wineries, where many of their features are particularly stunning.
In Trebujena, a town located close to this city and near to the mouth of the River Guadalquivir, the surrounding countryside alternates with wave after wave of rolling slopes of albariza soil planted with vineyards stretching out towards the Doñana National Park, a spectacular setting where Steven Spielberg, the film director, shot the film The Empire of the Sun. It is famous for its musts which can still be tasted at some of the town's cooperatives, along with a dish of prawns or eels.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
On the mouth of the River Guadalquivir, opposite the Doñana National Park, Sanlúcar played a key role in the discovery of the New World. Christopher Columbus, Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano all set off from here in search in wealth and glory. The city's trade links with America knew their heyday in the 19th century.
The wineries of Sanlúcar are as magnificent and striking as those of Jerez, and include the Barbadillo winery, which produces a white table wine that is famed and acclaimed throughout Spain. Hidalgo, Argüeso and La Guita are others of the city's well-known wineries. The magnificent location of Sanlúcar and its special microclimate come together to produce the unique "Manzanilla" wine, which is not made anywhere else in the world and which is perfect to wash down the city's iconic product: "Sanlúcar king prawns".
A magnificent Moscatel, a sweet, fruity wine from the grapes of the same name, is made in Chipiona, a seafaring and agricultural town whose municipal district is within the "production zone" of the Marco de Jerez. The town is also home to the Chipiona Lighthouse, which was built in 1867 and the highest in Europe at 69 metres high. The lighthouse provides a magnificent lookout point over the town's stunning golden beaches that have been awarded blue flags by the European Union since 1989.
Rota's Tintilla, a sweet, dark wine-making relic, made using the grape of the same name, is produced in far smaller amounts, but it can still be found in some of the handful of wineries that still survive in that town. Apart from its beautiful beaches and its striking Luna Castle, this town is noted for one unusual feature, the fish corrals, constructions dating probably back to Roman or Arab times, where the fish and shellfish would be trapped in small pools at low tide and then be caught by fishermen. The fish pens off the Almadraba Beach have been declared a Natural Monument.
El Puerto de Santa María
This is an important tourist centre with an outstanding number of monuments. The birthplace of Rafael Alberti, this city was at its heyday during the 18th century and was known as the "City of the Hundred Palaces". Its current layout was created by the sherry trade and dates back to the 20th century and is known for its many beautiful Baroque palaces.
The best known of the city's wineries is Osborne, thanks to its iconic "Osborne Bull" which stands proudly along the Spanish highways and has been an "Asset of Cultural Interest" since 1997. El Puerto also has many other well-known wineries, including Terry, Luis Caballer and Bodegas 501, where the main local sherries - fino, oloroso and amontillado, and also brandy, are aged in the characteristic setting of this area.
Chiclana de la Frontera
Produces a significant amount of wine, which is sold under the Vinos de Chiclanalabel. Its wineries produce excellent finos, muscatels, amontillados, olorosos and creams, which are very similar in nature to the sherries produced in Jerez under the same names. This city has experienced a huge tourist boom in recent years, thanks to its main amenities showcasing the natural setting, within the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park, and the magnificent beaches, the marina and golf courses.
LA SIERRA DE CÁDIZ WINE ROUTE
Red wines are produced under the "Tierra de Cádiz" label in Arcos. This denomination also includes the Sierra de Cádiz white table wines, from the vineyards of Arcos. One such wine is the Tierra Blanca from the Bodegas Páez Morilla winery and the wines from Prado del Rey.
Arcos de la Frontera has wineries where the Regantío Viejo (Bodegas Regantío Viejo), Viña Lucía by La Vicaría (Bodegas Páez Morilla), and Taberner y Barbazul (Huerta de Albalá) red wines are aged and labelled.
Then there are the wines of the Bodegas Rivero wineries, in Prado del Rey, which are the legacy of the mythical Pajarete which triumphed in Europe at the start of the 19th century where the Sierra de Cádiz wines were highly acclaimed at the best tables of France. The Pajarete of that time was a sweet wine that was very similar to what a Port wine is like today. The winery now produces red and white wines, including a natural sweet wine, Pajarete must.
Arcos de la Frontera
The gateway to the Route of the White Villages, Arcos is probably one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and has been declared a historical-artistic monument. Perched on a rock, the town looks out over the surrounding countryside where fighting bulls and horses are raised and with its groves of oranges, almonds and olives, and vineyards. The best views are from the balcon de Arcos, a look-out point in the Plaza del Cabilido, the main town square.
One of the best ways to see the town is to go on one of the guided visits organised by the Tourist Office, including one that features its magnificent Andalusian and Moorish courtyards. The town is particularly known for Holy Week processions declared to be of National Tourist Interest and for the way it celebrates Christmas, where the whole town becomes a living Nativity Scene, of Andalusian Tourist Interest.
Apart from spending time exploring the monuments and sights of Arcos, it is a first-rate base for watersports in the city's reservoirs or hang-gliding or gliding from the nearby heights.
The Regantío winery in Arcos de la Frontera has recovered the old Regantío Viejo wines and is creating new ones such as the Fine Tempo. At weekends, the Regantío estate is the ideal place to try the wines accompanied by a tasty dish of chorizo sausage and larded pork, fried organic eggs and a good "fritá de papas" (fried potatoes). This option is only available at lunchtime and booking is essential. The estate also offers a childcare service so the children can play outside under the watchful eye of some monitors while their parents linger over lunch.
Prado del Rey
There has been human settlement in this town, on the White Villages Route, dating back to the Paleotithic era. However, its most iconic historical legacy is the Roman city of Iptuci, located to the south of the town, where coins were minted and its importance was noted in the works of Plimio and other Roman historians. It is currently closed to visitors.
The Rivero winery will be happy to organise your visit and accommodation, provide you with information about a tapas route, meals and the other spots to visit in the zone.
A saltpan in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema mountains!!
Located at the top of the "Cabeza de Hortales", these saltpans began to be operated by the Phoenicians and reached its heyday under the Romans.
Fed by a spring of salted water, they are one of the last inland saltpans to continue to be operated in Andalusia. There is documentary proof that the pans have been run since the 15th century, even experts believe that the Hortales Saltpans were operated by the Phoenicians. They reached they heyday under the Romans, continued to provide salt during the Middle Ages and continue to be run by the fourth generation of a local family. The owners are happy to show visitors around the whole operation provided they phone in advance, but, of course, their main interest is to sell their "flor de Sal" gourmet salt, which is so pure that it is highly sought-after throughout Europe.. Thanks to this specialisation, the saltpan is profitable and this traditional activity can therefore be saved.
You can round off these visits by going to all the other towns in the Sierra de Cádiz.
Information of interest
Jerez, more than 20 wineries include González Byass, Domecq, Garvey, John Harveys, Sandeman, Valdivia, Williams & Humbert, Tradición..., which are magnificent architectural complexes that hide the secrets that make sherry into the most famous wine in the world. Specifically designed to age their leading wines, finos, amontillados and olorosos, and where nothing is left to chance, Jerez's wineries are buildings with high ceilings, supported by slender columns, a majestic appearance, cool interiors and dimly light, which provide a suitably tranquil atmosphere.
The most unusual of the different proposals is " Tai-chi between vineyards" at sunset at the Viña El Majuelo, located 4 km from Jerez and is organised by D'Arte Grupo. Apart from the Tai-chi classes, you can learn about how the vines are grown, visit the house and stroll through the vineyards. This is an ideal spot to discover the peace you can find from watching the sunset in the vineyards and take part in one of the oldest disciplines to relax and find inner well-being:
Wide variety of activities at the wineries on the route
The Sierra wineries
Centre dedicated to well-being and relaxing using a range of treatments including the winespa.