Published on August 6th, 2013 | by Ruben Luyten1
In 1835, infected by the sherry boom of his time, Manuel María González purchased an Andalusian bodega (now known as La Sacristia) in Jerez. Although initially conceived as a pure trading house, he started to explore the production of wine and in 1844 the first own vines were added. In 1849 Manuel Maria Gonzalez created his own brand Tio Pepe, the first registered trade mark in Spain. The name was a tribute to his uncle, José de la Pena, who strongly supported him. Today Tio Pepe is distributed to more than 150 countries around the world as one of the best-selling Finos in the world.
In 1855 he built bodega La Constancia and the estate was so successful that González associated with his British trade representative Robert Blake Byass. This was the foundation for today’s largest sherry producer Gonzalez Byass. Today the firm owns about 650 hectares of prime sherry vineyard, many of which in the Jerez Superior area, and extensive vine nurseries.
Not only was the Gonzalez family at the forefront of sherry winemaking, they’ve also participated in the introduction of the polo game in Spain, the first grass tennis court, the installation of the first electric lighting and running water in the plant, the first train project in Spain as well as numerous other industrial and cultural innovations. In 1862, when Queen Isabel II visited the firm, the construction of a new bodega called La Concha was commissioned from the engineer Gustav Eifel.
In 1963 they constructed the great Tio Pepe bodega, holding 28,000 butts and built on 3 floors. Another bodega was built in 1972, Las Copas, with a capacity of around 80,000 butts. In 1998 the Byass family withdrew from the company. The company is now owned and run by the 4th and 5th generation of the Gonzalez family. In 2004, Gonzalez Byass joined forces with Grupo Vips and opened 8 Tio Pepe restaurants in Madrid, but they were closed in 2011 due to the crisis. In 2008 the company acquired the well-known Viñas del Vero wineries.
The famous sombrero-wearing, guitar-toting bottle became the classic image of the Tio Pepe brand in 1935. The famous neon sign in Puerta del Sol in Madrid caused a bit of a stir when Apple bought the building and decided that the sign should be removed from the roof (probably to replace it with the apple logo). The bodega has found another rooftop in the same Puerta del Sol once again and the sign should be reinstalled after renovations.
Gonzalez Byass sherry range
Gonzalez Byass have an extensive range of sherries, from low-end products to high-end, old wines.
- Elegante range: low-end supermarket sherries
- Manzanilla El Rocio and Fino Gaditano, for the local market
- Tio Pepe, one of the world’s most famous sherries and the archetype of Fino
- Tio Pepe en Rama, the limited edition en rama version of Tio Pepe, launched in 2010 and bottled each year
- Amontillado Viña AB, around 9 years old from a solera fed by Tio Pepe wine. This wine in turn feeds the Amontillado Del Duque solera.
- Palo Cortado Leonor, a relatively new addition, launched in 2010. A wine of around 15 years old and the base wine for the Palo Cortado Apostoles.
- Oloroso Alfonso, a dry Oloroso of around 10 years of age
- Solera 1847, a sweetened Oloroso Dulce, from separately matured Oloroso and P.X. which are blended and then left to mature further together
- Nectar PX, a young Pedro Ximénez which acts as a base wine for P.X. Noe
- San Domingo Pale Cream and Cristina Cream
- Croft Pale Cream, for export markets
- The Palmas range: Una Palma, Dos Palmas, Tres Palmas and Cuatro Palmas. Four ‘snapshots’ of Fino Tio Pepe at a much older age, leading to the Amontillado Cuatro Palmas of 45 years of age.
- VORS 30 year old range: Amontillado del Duque (dry); Palo Cortado Apostoles (from a solera started in 1862, matured in P.X. casks during the last stages of maturation); Oloroso Matusalem (sweetened); PX Noe (naturally sweet)
- Añadas (single vintage wines, very rare, from different years between 1963 and 1994)
Calle Manuel Maria Gonzalez 12,
Tel: (+34) 956 357 016
The bodegas are the most visited in Europe, and among the most interesting. Tours in different languages.