PLANNING A TOUR
The three principal towns of the Sherry Triangle – Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María – are hidden gems with some of the best beaches and architecture in Europe. Touring the triangle gives you a chance to combine the best of Spain – the sea, sun, flamenco and of course sherry – in a way that will delight all five senses. And if wine tasting isn’t your travel companion’s cup of sherry, there is the possibility of combining the sherry tour with something that does appeal. Check out the website rutadeljerezybrandy.es (Sherry Triangle and Brandy Route), which can help you plan your tour with information including days out, language lessons, and accommodation availability and pricing.
Sherry and art: In Jerez is Bodega Tradicion (bodegastradicion.es), whose rare, single-barrel aged sherries sit beneath a well-presented collection of more than 60 pieces of Spanish art. Works include pieces by Goya, Velazquez, Julio Romero de Torres, El Greco, Francisco de Zurbaran and Pablo Picasso’s series of etchings known as the “Suite Vollard”. Wine tasting tours are available every day in various languages, though the art gallery is not open on Sundays. Tours cost from €30 (US$35) per person.
Sherry and horses: Bodega Sandeman (sandeman.com) provides an ideal opportunity for sherry tasting in the morning, followed by an afternoon getting to know the world-renowned horses of Andalusia. The bodega’s proximity to a nearby equestrian school produces a surprisingly pleasant combination of horse and wine odours. Tours start at €8 (US$9.4) per person for three sherries.
Bodegas Real Tesoro and Valdespino (grupoestevez.es) have a stunning collection of contemporary and modern art, a museum of horse carriages, and a stud farm of rare, blue-black Spanish stallions. Tours start at €10 (US$11.7) per person.
You can stroll over to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, with daily performances of dancing stallions, or the Recreo de las Cadenas Palace, where you can visit the Horse and Carriage Museum, the gardens and palaces, training areas, riding arena and stables. Shows with dancing horses (including a museum tour) start at €25 (US$29) per person. You can also book riding lessons. Reservations online via realescuela.org
Personalised tours: For the ultimate experience, have a tour of the area designed specifically for your needs. Cadiz Guia is a specialist tour company that puts together bespoke sherry trips with your own personal guide. He/ she will be on hand to answer all your questions, arrange travel, and give tips on tasting and buying sherry. Having a local person show you around provides real insight into the area, with insider knowledge of the best bars to visit and the best prices to pay at the markets. Cadiz Guia offers a tour for two people, visiting three bodegas and including transport, from €250 (US$293); cadizguia.com
Where to stay: Take your bodega visit to the next level by staying at the Hotel Palacio Garvey, a 19th-century neoclassical mansion house and the former home of sherry barons the Garvey family, which has been converted into a 16-bedroom luxury hotel. There is an old bodega connected with the hotel that you can explore. The hotel is in the centre of the old part of Jerez and provides a perfect retreat after a morning exploring the area. Sherry is served on arrival, and the chef in the hotel’s restaurant, La Condesa, serves dishes paired with local sherries. hotelpalaciogarvey.com-cadiz.com
Getting there: Daily flights are available from Madrid to Jerez, or you can travel by train to enjoy the countryside en route. Trains run hourly with return tickets from €79 (US$92). The journey takes three hours and can be booked online at renfe.com