Daily Archives: January 13, 2018

Bodegas Fundador!

After a tour of the city center of Jerez, we walked to Bodegas Fundador!

Porter’s girls smelled (not tasted!) the different varieties of brandy and sherry made by Grupo Emperador.

Here, bodega is translated to winery (not the same as the NYC meaning!). Jerez is in a region known for its sherry and brandy production. The bodega we visited produces two brands of sherry, Harvey and Terry, and one of brandy, called Fundador.

Carolyn N. shared this photo of La Mezquita room, which is named to reflect the Moorish influence in architecture. We will have a chance to see La Mezquita, which means mosque, in Cordoba next week on an excursion.

Spanish brandy, now renowned, was an accidental discovery in 1874. A Dutch company reached out to the winery, asking for a large shipment, which led to a distillation process gone wrong after the company did not send the agreed upon payment. The result, it turns out, was both potent and delicious and thus, the first Spanish brandy was made!

The rooms where the barrels are kept are naturally climatized, rather than air conditioned. Up to 40,000 barrels are kept in one of the buildings at Bodegas Fundador.

During our tour of the grounds, we entered several different rooms, including one called “La Mezquita” and one called “El Molino.” In each, the barrels were stacked in layers where each layer represents a different step in the aging process of the wines. The brandy and sherry are extracted using a specialized process; because no barrels are removed or completely emptied, there are barrels at the bodega that date back to the 1730s! Solera is named due to its level on the floor (el suelo) and is the level with the oldest liquid. The two criaderas above are slightly younger (middle) and the youngest (top) in the bodega.

We learned that the barrels are made of American oak painted to help with the processing and temperature control. If they spring a leak, a specialized resin is used to reseal a barrel.

We also learned about the yeast and oxidation processes they use to create different drinks with a range of alcohol content. At the end of the tour, we visited the on-site museum.

The pisadores, the traditional wine stomping employees of a bodega, wore specialized shoes to avoid destroying the grapes as they stomped.

Sherry production is the main industry in the city of Jerez. The soils and climate are well-suited to the specific type of grapes and export of the wines represents a major economic driver in the region. This area is also known as Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, representing the Spanish, French and English names for the drink and recalling the Arabic name for the city. As a way of protecting the local product, the name “sherry” can only be applied to wines of that type produced in this region. The D.O., or denominación de origen, is a protected status for products associated with a specific region in the country.

Though now the wines are produced with machines and steel, in the past, individuals stood in tons of grapes and stomped to extract the juices from the grapes. The wooden lagar, seen here, sits in the museum at the bodega to call back to days past.

The Domecq family who once owned the bodega is no longer in control, due to changing finances and global market conditions. Since 2015, a Philippine company called Grupo Emperador has controlled the brandy and sherry production.

A Porter’s connection! Caroline Kennedy, former US Ambassador and daughter of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis MPS ’47, visited the bodega in 1972 and signed one of the barrels.

Its owner, Andrew Tan, signed one of the barrels in the “celebrity room” of the bodega with the phrase “A New Era Begins.” Here, too, we can see the layering of time in this region of Spain.


Each day, 2-3 students will share some aspect of their time in Spain. Here, Caroline Ma talks about her Friday evening.

My host parents picked me, Marina, and her sister, Lupi, up after school. We drove to Cádiz, where we picked up some delicious pastries at a quaint bakery. At Lupi’s suggestion, I decided to try her favorite, a palmera chocolate paired with a café con leche.

From 6pm to 9:30pm every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, Marina and Lupi take lessons at La Casa de las Artes, the music conservatory in Cádiz. During that time, I usually explore the local area with my host parents.

The ancient remains of La Villa Romana, with modern architectural structures in the background, was just one of the many sites of Cadiz. The site contains the remnants of a Roman rain water collection area.

As we walked through smaller streets into the center of Cádiz, my host father pointed out many of the city’s main landmarks. Although Cádiz is rich with with Spanish culture and history, there are many places where ancient Roman influence is evident.

A portion of Las Puertas de la Tierra bathed in lights. This was once the main entrance to the city of Cadiz.

Today, we decided to take a walk along the beach. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the last moments of the sunset over the water. The vivid colors and perfect temperature made it a completely breathtaking moment.

There’s just something about sunset on the beach, ¿no?

At the end of the day, it was amazing to see present day Spain juxtaposed with old historical influences. I’m so thankful for this time with my host family.