Buscando Tio Pepe / Looking for Uncle Joe

Posted on November 5, 2010 by


Rumor had it that my long lost uncle Joe was someplace in Spain. Knowing that Joe liked to tip a glass or two Sue and I headed off to Jerez de la Frontera. “Jerez” is the hispanicized version of “Sherish” which was its Moorish name when the town was under Islamic rule. The English speaking world modified the Arabic into “Sherry,” Jerez being the origin of Sherry wines. Hence, our suspicion that long-lost uncle Joe might be found there.

Jerez is a great place to visit. Unfortunately, we had decided to go there on a Sunday over a long holiday weekend here. I say “unfortunately” because it turns out that despite what one might think about the commercial opportunities for vendors on such a weekend, in Jerez just about everyone exits the place over long weekends.  So there are few people in our pictures. We took the AVE train to go there from Sevilla.  The AVE, or high-velocity train, is a great example of how the Acela in the northeast back home ought to be running. It frequently hits speeds in excess of 90 mph and in total quiet and comfort. There is little movement inside the train and the ride is incredibly smooth.

Jerez Pedestrian Street

Pedestrian Street in Jerez de la Fronter

Old Roman Fortrish Walls

Headless Statue Near Train Station

Since Jerez is the sherry capital of the world we of course went off to take a tour of a winery. We went to Gonzalez and Byass, a firm that was founded in the early 19th century. It is a large commercial operation today. We found the presentation on how sherry and brandy is made to be utterly fascinating. Below is a picture of Sue in the “international” barrel room. The winery exports its sherry and brandy to more than 150 countries. At the top of the picture is the barrel for Argentina. We have included a picture of an old street that was in use many years ago but is now inside the winery and a pedestrian walkway. As you can tell it is gorgeous.

Sue in the International Barril Room

Jerez Byass Fermentation Room

Jerez Byass Bodega Old Streets

Jerez Byass Bodega Brandy Stills


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Not long after we finished the formal tour, and just as we were loosing hope that we would run into my uncle,we turned a corner of one these old streets and to our surprise, there he was — uncle Joe — or in Spanish, Tio Pepe!

Posted in: Jerez