The processes of sherry is one of the most traditional of all wines, and the sherries of Bodegas Dios Baco are among the finest handcrafted sherries available. The company traces its origins to a partnership formed in 1765 between the Vergara family and a British firm which resulted in “Bodegas Vergara y Dickinson,” based in Jerez de la Frontera, the heart of the sherry-producing region. In the early 20th century, Sr. Juan Vergara partnered with Sr. Juan Palomino (a descendant from an established sherry family). Together these two men formed Bodegas Palacio y Vergara, which became a highly respected producer of sherry known throughout the world. This bodega consisted of twelve cellars collectively known as ”Los Doce Discipulos” – the “Twelve Disciples.” Of these twelve cellars, the principal cellar “Bodegas Dios Baco,” named for the Roman god of wine Bacchus, was built in 1848. This is the foundation of the sherries currently in production at Bodegas Dios Baco.
During the 1960’s all holdings of Bodegas Palacio y Vergara were purchased by the Rumasa group and then by the John Harvey Group. The cellars and 40 hectares of the traditional sherry varietals of Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez were finally purchased in 1992 by the family firm of Páez Morilla, whose managing director José Páez Morilla currently heads of the company.
After acquiring Bodegas Dios Baco and the vineyards, Sr. Páez Morilla oversaw renovations throughout the entire complex. His mission was and continues to be to handcraft limited batches of fino, amontillado, oloroso, and cream sherries that are more traditional and complex in style. The amontillado, oloroso, and particularly the cream sherries are drier than what one might expect from more commercial brands, which tend to be uniform but lacking depth of character. Bodegas Dios Baco’s advantage starts with control over the care of their own vineyards of Palomono, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez grapes. The control is exercised first by selecting the time of harvest, the vinification of grapes, as well as the careful blending through a solera which dates back to the 1960’s. Sr. Páez Morilla feels privileged to be able to bring you a unique product that can only come from Denominación de Origen (D.O.) Jerez in Spain and to have a well-established history and heirloom-quality solera to rely on to produce his sherries.
The region of Andulucia, in southwestern Spain, is the site of the D.O. Jerez, home to the only place that authentic sherry is made. All sherries in D.O. Jerez are made in the “triangle” of Jerez. This triangle is located between the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerta de Santa Maria, and Sanlucar de Barrameda. This area is bordered to the North by the Rio Guadalquivir (Jerez de la Frontera) and extends to the South further than the mouth of the Rio Guadalete (Puerto de Santa Maria). It is also bound on the west by the Atlantic Ocean (Saniucar de Barrameda); this long stretch of coast is known locally as the “sherry coastline.” The soil throughout the region is highly concentrated in calcium carbonate, or “albariza” earth. The microclimate around Sanlucar de Barrameda results in this being the only area “manzanilla” sherry is produced.
The principal industries of Andulucia are fishing and agriculture based on grapes, olives, vegetables, and sunflowers. The grape varietals used in the production of sherry, Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez, generally ripen from the end of August to the middle of September. The Dio Baco Estate includes acreage of the three principal varietals. Sr. Páez Morilla, along with the cellarmaster, visit the vineyards during the ripening season on a daily basis to de- termine the optimum time for harvesting. The Palomino varietal is the principal grape used as a base in drier sherry types of fino, manzanilla and amontillado. Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are the grapes used in varying proportions to develop the sweeter sherry types of palo cortado, oloroso, cream, and pedro ximenez dessert wines. After harvesting, these two grapes are actually left out in the sun to dry out, peaking the sugar concentration.
Sherries are fortified wines – wines where alcohol is added after fermentation bringing the alcohol content up to 15 to 20 percent depending on the style of sherry being made. All sherries are made through the time honored tradition of the solera system, a “fractionalized blending method” combining sherries varying in sweetness then aging them in American oak casks. Depending upon the style of sherry being made, which range from very dry (fino, manzanilla) to medium (amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso) to sweet (cream and pedro ximenez), proportions will vary. The cellarmaster, known as a “venenciador,” is responsible for the bodegas’s style and consistency of sherry. The venenciador utilizes his/her knowledge of the bodegas’ solera to ensure the sherry remains very constant from blending-to-blending and year-to-year.