La Bodega de Gonzalez Byass

OP blogger Luke Andrews takes a trip around the largest Bodega in Jerez

LAST UPDATED: 11 Nov, 2015 @ 13:20

OP blogger Luke Andrews at the Bodega de Gonzalez Byass
OP blogger Luke Andrews at the Bodega de Gonzalez Byass

A KEY part of Jerezanos identity, the above-ground bodega founded by a local family holds a special place in everyone’s hearts. It represents a continuation of the winemaking tradition that has existed here since the first Greek settlers.

You can visit this Bodega by tour only. These are available in English, Spanish or German. Each includes a 15 minute video and a guide.

The video viewed within the Bodega, explains the heritage of the place. Then the guide takes you through the still rooms, permeated by the scent of maturing grapes, with barrels stacked to the ceiling. Some of them are signed by famous celebrities, such as Princess Alexandra of Kent and even Spanish Royals.

At the end of the tour you can try a minimum of two of their finest wines. Taking any less would be rude.

The price depends on choice. Just tasting two wines at the lower end of the scale is 13 euros, whereas four wines and tapas for the more luxurious is 19 euros.

Established since 1835, Gonzalez Byass owes its success to it’s unique purification techniques. Their wines are stored in un-filled barrels that have yeast growing on the liquid’s surface. This stops the oxidation process, changing the wines taste. Every year, new wine is added, to create a melting pot of vitality and strength in the flavour.

Gonzalez Byass is also famous for utilising the Solera and Crieda systems, to deliver yet more unique tastes to the market.

The business is “inextricably linked” with the family, according to the video. Founded by a man with a vision, Manuel Maria Gonzalez Angel, the winery remained as the family business for generations.

Their vision has now floated to over 150 countries worldwide. Every regions flag is displayed on a barrel in a large semi-circular room outside the main bodega, provoking a new definition of pride.

Success has led to expansion, and expansion to preservation. As the business grew it bought the houses along the main street leading to the cathedral and converted them into wine storage facilities.

Now in the shade of grape vines, this timeless street gives the forgotten feeling of old Jerez.

Gonzalez Byass is the largest Bodega in Jerez.

Following a refined explanation of the wineries history, and a viewing of some prestigious signatures (including Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Edward VIII Duke of Windsor), you are escorted into the biggest building in the complex.

Bodega de Gonzalez Byass
Bodega de Gonzalez Byass

Entering a pale, modern looking structure akin to the inside of a Dubai Hotel, you taste the wine. This is a great shame as it detracts from all the character that was previously so delicately assembled.

A chance to wet your tongue with tastes contrived of the three greatest elements, water, fire and earth, somewhat dampens your disappointment.

The Bodega is certainly worth a visit. It may be “a very touristy and no longer traditional Bodega”, according to some Jerezanos, but it is a fantastic starting point to get into the spirit of Jerez wine.

Everything is explained clearly, and you begin to feel the love of Jerez welling up inside you.

Definitely worth a sip.

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  1. For children the visit of a alcoholic attraction might be boring. But some mice flitting around the barrels may well attract them and will distract them from watching their parents getting drunken.

  2. Wolfgang: We’ve “done” the Tio Pepe tour/taste and if you can get drunk on the piddling allowance included, then your liver needs attention.