Control Of The Wine Industry

Prior to the eighteenth century the wine trade was in the hands of small individual merchants, and establishments on the scale of modern bodegas were entirely unknown; there was no continuity of name and no records of individual merchants have survived. Only one modern firm‚Ä"J. M. Rivero‚Ä"can trace its direct ancestry to an earlier period. This house has been trading at least since 1653.

Its trademark is CZ, and the initials stand for Cabeza y Zarco, the family name of Don Pedro Alonso Cabeza de Aranda y Zarco, who was its founder. One of his descendants, Don Antonio Cabeza de Aranda (who was created Marques de Montana by Royal Decree in 1775) took Don Francisco Antonio de la Fixera into partnership. Don Francisco's grand-daughter married Don Pedro Agustin Rivero, whose decendants still own the business.

Many valuable archives have been preserved, including marble coasters, letter books dating from 1734, and account books from 1802, which record the names of many British merchants trading in Andalusia. Commercial records dating back to this period are rare, as much of the business was done by word of mouth, to avoid the royal taxes.

The oldest established of the many bodegas founded by immigrants from the British Isles appears to be that of Rafael O'Neale. The O'Neale family fled from persecution in troubled Ireland during the seventeenth century, and entered the armies of France and Spain, to follow the only profession that was open to them.

In 1724 Timothy O'Neale, who had married into one of the best local families, established his bodega in Jerez, and it is headed today by the widow of Don Enrique O'Neale, one of his descendants. So far, however, no detailed records of the history of the firm have come to light. It is a small house selling only on the export markets but has some very fine wines, stone coasters, and a notably beautiful bodega that includes some of the Moorish walls of the city and is designated a "Monumento Nacional."

The oldest-established of the large bodegas is undoubtedly that of Pedro Domecq. The Domecq family originated in the Basses-Pyrenees, and their history has been traced in great detail by a private investigator, apparently to satisfy his own curiosity, as it remains in his possession and is unpublished. It is, however, a remarkable document and makes fascinating reading.

Inevitably, there are elements of comedy, as when a noble lady's dowry included two cows (with bells) and a feather bed. But essentially it is the record of a great aristocratic family who had the rare privilege of doing obeisance to each successive king of France and presenting him with a pair of white gloves.

Like many other French aristocrats, some members of the family found it prudent to leave their native country during the eighteenth century, and their arrival in Andalusia had a profound effect on the history of the sherry trade. But the Domecq bodegas trace their origin to the year 1730, when the Domecq family was still in France, busy presenting white gloves to French sovereigns.

The house of Domecq was founded neither by a Frenchman nor by a Spaniard, but by an Irish farmer and wine-grower called Patrick Murphy. He came to Spain some time prior to 1730, and although he soon became prosperous, he cared little for his business, as he was a bachelor and was in poor health. His great friend was Juan Haurie, who lived next door in Plaza de Plateros, where he traded as a general merchant, with linen stores and drapers' shops.

In 1745, Haurie began to help his friend in the management of his vineyards and when Murphy died on 21 July 1762, Haurie was his heir. He inherited all his properties, including vineyards in the finest areas of Macharnudo and Carrascal; and the wine business so suited him that he entirely abandoned his other interests.

Haurie was a man whose intense ambition was not confined to acquiring fame and fortune: he also wanted to make his wine as good as it could possibly be made. But his efforts were continually frustrated by the restrictions of the Gremio, which prevented sherry and coaster set shippers from accumulating the necessary stocks of old wine.

In 1772, the prolonged conflict was taken to the courts, and Haurie was eventually permitted to take part in all three branches of the trade, becoming a grower, storekeeper and shipper. He bought extensive bodegas and had his own cooperage. Like his Irish friend, he was a bachelor; with his brothers and nephews, he went to live in a magnificent house where there was also room for his offices.

To develop the business, he founded a new company with his five nephews; it was called Juan Haurie y Sobrinos, and included not only the wine business, but also several farms and shops. His principal interest, however, remained in the wine, and he steadily acquired new vineyards.

Juan Haurie died in 1794. Under the terms of his will, all his capital remained in the business and was kept undivided, as a central trust fund for the benefit of his five nephews equally. One of these was Pedro Lembeye, the son of Haurie's sister Dona Maria. Lembeye's sister had married a Domecq, and their son was named Pedro. But Pedro Domecq's story belongs to the next century, so we will end this story here.

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About The Author, Sarah Martin
Sarah Martin is a freelance marketing writer based out of San Diego, CA. She specializes in the history of viniculture and international cuisine and travel. For a beautiful selection of marble coasters or a specialty coaster set, please visit http://www.thirstycoasters.com/.