Monday, 20 August 2012

Bodegas: Palomino & Vergara

In 1765 a man called Palomino (claimed by the family, and not without reason, to be descended from the knight Fernan Yanez Palomino who helped Alfonso X defeat the Moors at the battle of Jerez, and after whom the grape is named) set himself up as a vine grower and wine maker. He earned himself a decent reputation and did well. At roughly the same time three brothers called Juan, Bartolome and Mateo Vergara y Vegas of El Puerto de Santa Maria joined up with a British firm, becoming Vergara & Dickson. This firm prospered and moved to Jerez. Later the firm's name was changed to Juan Vicente Vergara before the two firms merged to become Palomino & Vergara at the beginning of the 20th century.

They were quite a pair. Juan Jose Palomino was appointed Deputy for Andalucia in 1933  by the II Republic, and was also owner of the Diario de Jerez newspaper. Juan Vergara was also a bit of a businessman, having established a pair of factories, one for pencils and the other for ice. They took over the now lost firm of Jose Bertemati. The Vergara family owned a beautiful mansion called the Atalaya, for a while Rumasa's HQ in Jerez, now the Jerez Museum. They owned 300 hectares of vineyard, and their impressive bodega formed a complex known as the 12 Disciples, but unfortunately only three remain; La Cruce, Pio XII and Dios Baco. The latter, built in 1848, was named after a statue of Bacchus on the facade, one of quite a few embellishments. It contained 2,000 butts and a cooperage.

An old print of the bodegas (from Bodegas Dios Baco)
In 1963 the firm was bought by Rumasa, and for the next 20 years or so all went passably well. The palatial Atalaya became Rumasa offices, but  it wasn't to last, and Rumasa was expropriated by the Government in 1983 and its component companies checked over and sold off. Harveys bought Palomino and Vergara in 1985, and what with the continual restructuring of multinationals, sold the Dios Baco bodega in 1992 to Paez Morilla who then established Bodegas Dios Baco, and the Fino Tio Mateo brand and its soleras to Grupo Estevez in 1993.

The Dios Baco Bodega before restoration

Very little of P&V is left now. Tio Mateo is alive and well but the name P&V has disappeared from the label which now quotes Real Tesoro as producer. Other well known products were Infante Oloroso, and a pair of good brandies, Fabuloso and Eminencia.

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