4 Wineries in the Sherry Triangle Worth Visiting
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
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This may come as a shock to you since I'm writing an article about wineries, but I'm not a wine drinker. So why am I writing about Spanish wineries? Well, I love the history behind them and learning about how they've developed over the years, and the older wineries are beautiful to walk around as well which is a bonus. When we visited the Province of Cádiz during our road trip in southern Spain, I learned that this area is a key wine producer, especially in the world of sherry making. There are a lot of wineries in Spain to visit, but the wineries in the Sherry Triangle are in a class of their own. Before we get to the wineries (bodegas in Spanish), here are a few answers to some of the key questions that visitors ask:
What is Sherry?
I'm not an expert in wine at all, so I'll put this in the simplest terms possible. Sherry is a fortified wine produced only within the Sherry Triangle in southern Spain, and comes from one of three white grapes. Despite it coming from a white grape, it has a range of colours including a very dark brown, depending on how it's produced and how long it ages. It's actually one of the oldest wines in the world, dating back to the Moorish occupation of Jerez in the 13th century.
What is a Bodegas?
This is actually a really easy question to answer. A bodega refers to a wine cellar or a place to store wine, so a bodegas is just the plural form of that. It can get a bit confusing when people are using the words bodegas and wineries interchangeably, but they mean the same thing.
Where is the Sherry Triangle?
The Sherry Triangle is located in the Province of Cádiz, in the southwestern corner of Andalusia. Three cities make up the points of the triangle: Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Jerez de la Frontera, and El Puerto de Santa María. The Sherry Triangle doesn't include the city of Cádiz itself, but that doesn't mean you can't take a day trip there as well!
Why is Sherry only produced in the Sherry Triangle?
The climate in this area is unique and allows for three different types of grapes to be grown here, which are used in the sherry production. You can actually taste the difference in the wines when you visit the wineries in each city, as they all have slightly different climates despite being close to one another. That's why all of the sherry wine tours are unique!
Hopefully that answers some of your questions about sherry wine, and has gotten you in the mood to learn about 4 wineries in the Sherry Triangle that are worth visiting on any trip to southern Spain (and are some of the top wineries in Spain too)!
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
First up on my list of the best wineries in southern Spain is Bodegas Barbadillo, which is the first winery we visited while we were exploring the Province of Cádiz. You may have come across Manzanilla sherry at some point, which is a dry white sherry made from palomino grapes. Well, Sanlúcar de Barrameda is the only location in the world where it can be produced and be officially called Manzanilla, and Bodegas Barbadillo is the best place to try it!
Location: Bodegas Barbadillo is located right in the heart of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, directly next to another main attraction in the small coastal city: Castillo de Santiago. If you've decided to drive to Sanlúcar, parking isn't the easiest along its narrow streets, but you will eventually find an empty place somewhere.
Address: Calle Sevilla, 6, 11540 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz
History: Bodegas Barbadillo dates back to 1821, and in 1827 they were the first to give the name of Manzanilla to their wine and bottle it. Seven generations later and it's still a family run business, but it's now the largest producer of Manzanilla in the world, and one of the largest producers of sherry in general. It's a lovely bodegas to walk around and you can see how much history there is within the walls just by looking at them. If you're looking for some unique wines of Andalusia, you should definitely visit here.
Winery Tour: We joined Bodegas Barbadillo's guided winery tour (€10pp), which included entry into the Museo de la Manzanilla as well, which we were free to walk around once the tour had ended. The sherry tour also included wine tasting, where we were able to sample 4 different types of Barbadillo wine, in the setting of the museum. Guided tours in English take place at 11am and last for 1 hour, so it's a tour that you can very easily add into your itinerary. Our guide was great and spoke perfect English. She explained all of the technical terms and science behind the production of their wines, as well as gave us a brief history of the winery as well.
Review: This was my first ever winery tour so I didn't know what to expect. I'm not a wine lover myself, but visiting a sherry bodegas in southern Spain is one of the top things to do so I knew I should give it a go. Overall, I thought it was a really interesting tour and I loved learning about the history of Bodegas Barbadillo. The explanation of the wine-making process can be a bit hard to follow along with, especially if you aren't a wine expert, but our guide explained it in a way that made it a lot more bearable and fun to listen to.
Jerez de la Frontera
The next stop on our tour of the Sherry Triangle is Jerez de la Frontera. The city is home to the finest sherry producers in the world, and is absolutely stunning to walk around as well. I bet you didn't know that the word "sherry" is the English form of Jerez! Well, you might have done but I certainly didn't until we visited one of the city's best bodegas. There are a lot of sherry tours in Jerez to choose from, so it really is a wine lovers dream.
Location: Bodegas Tío Pepe is perfectly located in the middle of Jerez's city centre, right next to the stunning Alcázar de Jerez and the Catedral de Jerez, and is only around a 10 minute walk from the main plaza. Parking on the street is a bit difficult unless you get there very early in the morning, so I would recommend using the underground parking lot directly opposite the bodegas. It's very reasonably priced and is much better than parking your car directly in the hot Spanish sun!
Address: Calle Manuel María González, 12, 11403 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz
History: The history of Tío Pepe dates back to 1835, when it was founded by Manuel María González under the name González Byass. He was new to the world of wine making, so asked his uncle for advice, whom he affectionately called Tío Pepe. As a thank you, he gave him part of the winery and named the original cask of the soleras process after him. By 1844 they were exporting their sherry to the UK where it was very highly received, and since then it has only grown in popularity, becoming the world's largest producer of sherry.
Winery Tour: Bodegas Tío Pepe have several winery tours to choose from. We joined them on their Uncle Pepe Tour (€16.00pp), which included a tasting of two of their wines at the end of the tour, as well as a walking tour of the bodegas and a stroll down one of the most beautiful streets in the whole of Spain: Ciegos Street. The tour was done in a rather large group, and it started off with a very informative video about Tío Pepe and the González Byass brand. Our guide taught us about the history of the bodegas as well as the processes their wines go through, and spoke perfect English. They offer tours in both English and Spanish, so make sure you double check when you're booking if you want an English specific tour. Including the wine tasting at the end, the sherry tour took just under 2 hours, and we spent some time in the shop afterwards.
Review: Tío Pepe is one of the biggest names in sherry production, and if you haven't heard of them before, you most likely will have seen their iconic logo somewhere. Their bodegas is huge and there is a lot to see in a short amount of time so we didn't have too many opportunities to browse each area we visited at a leisurely pace which was a shame. I loved learning about their history and how they grew to be such a a huge name in the world of sherry making. The bar and restaurant area where we did the wine tasting was very modern and clean, but I would have preferred it if we had the wine tasting in one of the historic parts. Overall, it was a good tour and one I would recommend if you're looking to visit a sherry bodegas in Cádiz, and want to sample some of the best sherry in Jerez.
Location: Bodegas Lustau is another fantastic option if you're looking to do a winery tour in Jerez. This bodegas is located a little further away from the city's main attractions, but sits quite close to the train station so it's easily accessible. If you have a car, there is ample parking along the streets nearby, and depending what time your tour is at you may even be able to park for free, which is a bonus. The bodegas itself is gorgeous inside so you won't be disappointed!
Address: Calle Arcos, 53, 11402 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz
History: Lustau has quite an interesting history behind it, most of which I had no idea about until we went on the winery tour. It was founded in 1896 by a local court clerk named José Berdejo, who worked the vines on his land in his spare time. He slowly began to build up his sherry company and in the 1940s he was joined by his son-in-law who began to expand the brand. Today, it's one of the most recognizable sherry brands in the world, and is the only winery in the entire Sherry Triangle to operate in the three main towns. No Andalusia winery tour is complete without making a stop here.
Winery Tour: We joined Lustau's full tasting tour (€28pp), which I would highly recommend, even if you aren't a big wine drinker. Our tour guide, Carmen, spoke perfect English and was extremely knowledgeable in all things related to Lustau and wine in general. She was also a licensed sommelier, so her love for wine really shone through and made the tour even better. The tour lasted for 1.5hrs, and included a walk through of some of the most important parts of the winery. We began by picking up a glass and tasting some wine, before the tour had even started, and throughout the tour we stopped at various points to taste different types of sherry. At the end, we were treated to a tasting of their famous Vermouth (Vermut in Spanish). In total there were 9 different wine tastings so it's well worth your money to go on Lustau's sherry tour!
Review: If you really want to get a deep understanding of the history of sherry in the region and love sampling different types of wine, Lustau is the perfect choice for you. Rather than just letting us drink the wine, our guide explained the smells and tastes we would come across and the process that each of the wines undergoes to get those distinctions. I love history, so I was really pleased that in each of the rooms we stopped at inside the bodegas, our guide explained what the room was, how it was used, and the history behind it or some interesting events that had happened in them. Overall, one of the better guided tours I've been on, not just in terms of wineries but as a whole.
El Puerto de Santa María
The final corner of the Sherry Triangle brings us to the historic port town of El Puerto de Santa María. It may only be small, but the town played an important role during the period of exploration when Spain was trading with the new world. In fact, it has strong ties to Christopher Columbus, who named one of his ships after the town. If you decide to walk around the streets of El Puerto, you'll notice many opulent homes, which were once owned by wealthy merchants, and some you can even take a quick peek at inside. El Puerto is also home to a number of popular wineries, but only one is located in a castle.
Location: For those of you who love history and wine, in El Puerto you can go on a guided tour of Castillo de San Marcos, and finish the tour with a visit to the castle's very own bodegas (which is owned by Lustau). The castle is one of the city's main attractions, and is next to the tourism office, so you can't miss it. Parking is a bit touch and go though. The first time we visited El Puerto we were able to park on the street right outside the castle. The second time we weren't so lucky and had to use the underground parking garage a 15 minute walk away. If you just want to visit the wine shop, the entrance is located at the back of the castle.
Address: Plaza Alfonso X el Sabio, 3, 11500 El Puerto de Sta María, Cádiz
History: Castillo de San Marcos dates back to the 13th century, and has undergone a series of changes over its lifetime. As you walk through the castle you'll notice that it still has some of its Moorish archways and architecture, despite it being taken over by the Christians. The castle as a whole has been through a lot of restorations recently, and you can tour the castles winery which is owned by the Caballero Group (Lustau), with a history dating back to 1830.
Winery Tour: We went on the Guided Visit to the Castle and Winery (€14pp), which as phenomenal. The tour of the castle itself lasts 45 minutes, and you get to learn about the history of it, the role it's played in the development of the city, and what famous historical figures have passed through its doors. The second part of the tour also lasts 45 minutes and consists of a visit to the castle's bodegas and focuses on the culture of sherry wine in El Puerto in the present day. And of course you finish with a bit of wine tasting! The guided tour is a great mixture of old and new, and since it's set in a castle how can you say no?
Review: This was one of the more unique wine tours I've been on, and I loved the fact that we were able to tour the castle beforehand. The only time we were able to visit was when there was a Spanish language tour on, which turned out to be fine because the guide would talk to me in English as we were changing locations and tell me the main points of what she'd said to the group. The wine tasting is done in the wine shop, so we were able to sit down and rest a bit after the castle tour. It would have been amazing if the tasting was done on the roof of the castle, but there's no place to store the wine up there so that's wishful thinking!
The Sherry Triangle is the perfect location in southern Spain to visit if you're a wine lover. Even if you aren't, there are plenty of things to do in the Province of Cádiz, and these three sherry producing cities have a lot of history between them just waiting to be explored. Don't forget to check out some of the beaches in Cádiz, after a very stressful day of tasting all that lovely sherry wine - the province is famous for them!
I would love to hear if any of you have been on a winery tour, either in Spain or elsewhere, so please drop me a comment below! If you have any recommendations on other wineries to visit in the Sherry Triangle, I'd love to hear those too. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram for more unique places to visit and travel tips!