I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I certainly missed be home with my family and of course - I missed all of the food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Carmen took us all out for a nice dinner on Thursday to celebrate, but nothing can compare with Gig's stuffing!
Yesterday we took a trip to Jerez - a city just north of Cadiz, where Carmen lives. The city is best known for its sherry wine, which is produced in "bodegas" - which are similar to wine cellars. There is literally a bodega on every corner and when you walk outside, you can smell the wine in the air. It was incredible.
When we arrived in Jerez, Carmen took us for a little paseo and we all fell in love with the town. It had everything we loved about Cadiz combined with everything with love about Sevilla. It was the perfect combination. We then met with a tour guide (I can't remember her name), a gitano (gypsy), who I was not a fan of. Regardless, she was very knowledgeable and she was kind enough to take us to a very special bodega.
Apparently, we were supposed to tour a larger, more commercial bodega in town - but our tour guide took us somewhere very unique, a "regalo" (gift) she told us. We had the incredible opportunity to tour Bodega El Maestro Sierra - a local bodega famous for its high quality, all natural, handmade sherry and vinegar. El Maestro Sierra has been a family run business since 1830. The bodega was founded by a carpenter (of wine barrels) who decided to buy a small vineyard. Today, El Maestro is one of the best sherry bodegas in the world. Most impressively, it is owned and operated by 2 women - Pilar Pla Pechovierto and Ana Cabestrero. It was a real honor to meet these women, especially Dona Pilar, who was full of wisdom and advice.
Our tour began with a visit to the room where the barrels are made. To this day, all of the wine barrels are made by hand, using special American wood and hand-formed copper rings. There is only one man the bodega trusts to build and repair these barrels. We then visited the vinegar cellar and had the opportunity to smell some of their renowned sherry vinegar. AMAZING. We then walked around the wine cellar for a bit and learned about the process behind making the sherry. It amazed me that El Maestro does not use any chemicals or preservatives of any kind. They have truly mastered the art of making sherry. ***An interesting fact - all bodegas have windows that face the ocean. The secret: the ocean breeze has salt in it, which adds a unique flavor to the wine.
After the tour, we had a tasting! I must say - I am very picky with wine, and I am not a big fan of sherry. But, it was still quite a treat to be able to sit in Dona Pilar's personal office and taste 8 different types of sherry, including 3 reserve bottles (one aged 30 years, one 60 years, and one over 80 years). My personal favorite - Pedro Ximenez - a VERY old sherry, a little thicker, and tastes like raisins. It was delicious. Best part - they gave us a bottle of wine to take home. We can't wait to try it!
Following the visit to the bodega, we toured the Alcazar in town. We then had lunch and returned back to Cadiz. I didn't take any pictures inside the bodega - but Natalie did. Here is one that I stole from her:
Tomorrow we are going to a Cadiz futbol game (if the rain lets up!) - so be sure to check back for another post soon!