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The Jerez Region Municipalities
Straight to the main thing. If, speaking about the towns of the Jerez Region, you use their abridged names instead of full variants, you may save up to 10% of time. Now, to the rest of it.
To visit all towns of the Jerez region and come back to the starting point one needs to drive only 180 km. Simply driving through the Jerez Region will take you only 2-3 hours. But it would be wrong doing it so.
Small distances, well-developed and inexpensive public transport and affordable taxi (the two latter factors are important taking into account the inevitable sherry tastings) make it possible to choose among the towns of the region the most comfortable one to stay in — and make short (one-day) theme-based field-trips. To properly plan such trips, one needs to know at least a little the specifics of all the towns. Especially as there are only nine of them: Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Puerto Real, Chiclana de la Frontera, Chipiona, Rota, Trebujena and Lebrija.
Lebrija, Trebujena and Puerto Real may be omitted. They are wonderful towns with vineyards and bodegas around and in them but the academic approach requires prioritizing the other places.
Jerez de la Frontera is an official and true centre of the Jerez region oversaturated with sherry attractions. There is an increased concentration of bodegas, mostly open to visitors, in the city. Almost all restaurants make accent on the sherry theme one way or another; the city is the center of most cultural and festival events anyhow connected with sherry. And in general the city is simply laden with barrels and covered with enotourist signs. In short, Jerez de la Frontera is a sherry capital of the Jerez region, and without visiting it closer acquaintance with this wine is hardly imaginable.
However, Jerez de la Frontera is not the most convenient place for a permanent location. In the Jerez region it is practically the only town so distant from the sea — and it is perceptible. Heat in Jerez de la Frontera may be exhausting, and it is rather difficult to survive there without siesta and cold Fino.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda is the second must-visit town in the region. Because they make Manzanilla there. Concentration of bodegas, possibility to visit them and sherry food service are also fine there — although, of course, the concentration of sherry landmarks in Sanlúcar is noticeably lower than in Jerez. But this lower concentration can hardly be considered a drawback — the sherry program in Sanlúcar can still be extremely interesting.
The town is situated near the place where the Guadalquivir river flows into the Atlantic ocean. Therefore, beaches in Sanlúcar de Barrameda are very heartwarming — they are almost riverine. They have their local wine and non-wine festivals there. There are wonderful restaurants at the harbor and a very nice main street. There are several grand bodegas with excellent wine in Sanlúcar. If you want to have all sherry within walking distance but also various recreation of other sorts at the same time, then Sanlúcar de Barrameda is an optimal destination.
El Puerto de Santa Maria is also a town on a river that flows into the ocean. The ocean is the same, but the river is the Guadalete. It has nice beaches, resort hotels and a big camping close to the shore for affordable recreation aficionados. There is also a big bull-fighting arena in El Puerto as well as various reminders of Columbus’s voyages. Some streets have “sherry” names. Bodegas are not that numerous in the town, one could even say that beach-related rest dominates over sherry-related one here. However there is an interesting sherry theme in the town. Fino aged in El Puerto de Santa Maria is markedly different from Fino aged in Jerez — it is milder and more delicate due to the proximity of the ocean and other watersheds.
El Puerto de Santa Maria is a good destination for those willing to get rest in the Andalusian style immersing in the Andalusian culture. However, we will not insist on this evaluation as we spent too little time in this time.
Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda are the three main cities of the Jerez Region. They comprise the Maturation Zone also known as the Sherry Triangle. As a matter of fact visiting these three cities would be enough for a field sherry study. That is if you do it on a pro forma basis. But if you need beach recreation as well, you must visit Chiclana de la Frontera, Chipiona and Rota.
The three latter cities illustrate the principle “the better is the beach in the town, the simpler they treat wine there”. These are resorts, each of them — with its own peculiarities. One way or another, they also exploit the theme of sherry — but comparable to grand and entertainment-oriented bodegas of the Sherry Triangle this exploitation puts aback with its pleasant simplicity.
Chiclana de la Frontera is one of the two cities specializing in Moscatel wine production, so there is a formal wine reason for visiting it. But Chiclana’s Moscatel places may be observed in one go, thus it would be reasonable to have wonderful La Barrosa beaches (situated in a couple kilometers from Chiclana) as the purpose of coming there. There is a range of “reservation hotels” on the beach, so if you prefer an “all inclusive” type of recreation, Chiclana de la Frontera may be an option.
Chipiona is the other beach-and-Moscatel town. Beaches there are simpler, but Moscatel is better than in Chiclana. And the city in general is more wine devoted — it hosts a Moscatel festival and has its own traditions connected with wine drinking. Bodegas there are not numerous, but their format is original and attractive. Bodegas may have small bars or retail outlet points in different parts of the town. No sentimental stories about criaderas and soleras — just come, buy and drink. It buys you over. Chipiona would be a good destination for those seeking in-city beach vacation with a light focus on festivals. By the way, not far from Chipiona (one hour walk along the ocean side) there is Costa Balena — another purely recreational zone.
And, finally, Rota. Our favorite town. There are beaches — but they are simple, not luxurious, so they are not overcrowded. Rota has a specific grape variety and its own wine (Tintilla de Rota) — but almost no one comes there intentionally to fetch, which adds both the wine and the town intimacy. They hold their gastronomic festival in Rota — but it is focused on simple cooking of a simple fish. They also have a small port from where one can reach Cadiz. There is a splendid pine forest along the ocean — dry, fragrant, and with chameleons. Excellent seafood, open-air celebrations after 8 p.m., restaurants and bars for every taste, every town of the Jerez region in easy reach, and wonderful summer cottage life atmosphere. For our taste, it is the best place for a long-term location of a sherry traveler.
Some technical details for a clincher.
The only of the mentioned towns having an airport along with railway and bus stations is Jerez de la Frontera (another nearest airport is Sevilla). The other towns of the Jerez Region are connected by highways with inexpensive buses or taxis running there.
Pictures! Starting with the main city.
This site can contain information about drinks excessive consumption of which may cause harm to health and is unadvisable for people who didn’t come of age.
- Sherry.wine, FEDEJEREZ
- Copa Jerez, Sherry Week
- Sherry Notes, Jerez de Cine
- Los Generosos, Criadera
- Los Vinos de Jerez
- There are more articles in Russian than in English in this website. Sorry :(
- To our great regret, we didn’t have time to translate tasting and traveling notes into English. But, if you want, you can see them in Russian.