Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bodegas: Juan Haurie

Jean Haurie Nebout was born in Villesegure, Béarn, in the lower French Pyrenees, in about 1719. He was clever and wise, and could spot a good business opportunity, especially if it concerned wine. In 1740 he came to Jerez. He lived in the Plaza Plateros where he ran a bakery/drapery/general merchant business –virtually next door to Patrick Murphy.

Plaza Plateros today
Murphy was an Irish farmer, born possibly in County Cork, who had come to Jerez in 1725 and established a timber business, having no doubt fled Ireland for religious, political or poverty reasons. He was a bachelor and of a slightly sickly disposition, but had a good eye for business and soon saw that the Sherry trade was more profitable. By 1730 he had established himself in the wine trade, having bought vineyards in Ramona, Prunes and Balbaína, and bodegas in the Calle Tornería, where he lived, and also Prado de San Sebastián.

Haurie and Murphy became close friends, and the former helped Murphy in his wine business until 1762 when he inherited it along with its vineyards on Murphy’s death. Murphy was a bachelor and had no one else to leave it to. Haurie was delighted to get properly into the wine trade, re-named the firm Juan Haurie, and abandoned his previous business. It flourished and he became well known and popular. He supplied the first wines to James Duff. But then his efforts collided with the restrictions imposed by the Gremio de la Vinatería (the powerful growers’ union), which would not let bodegas/exporters store the reserves of wine necessary for ageing (so they would have to buy more must from the growers). Haurie simply decided to take on all three sides of the business, and become a grower as well as an exporter and almacenista.

He binvested in spacious new bodegas and more vineyards. Like Murphy, he was a bachelor, and with succession in mind, he constituted a new company in about 1773 with his five nephews: Juan José, Juan Pedro, Juan Luís, Juan Carlos and Pedro de Lembeye y Haurie and named the firm Juan Haurie & Sobrinos.

He died in 1794, and his nephews continued with the firm, becoming the biggest exporters. Juan José had been longest in Jerez, and had many contacts and good knowledge of the industry, so his contribution to the company was decisive. Things did not go well, however.

These were difficult times, and Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808. With their French background, this made life very difficult for the sobrinos (and not a few other bodegas – French or not). Juan Carlos, who had really helped the firm to become the biggest exporter in Jerez, now faced a dilemma. Despite having always lived in Jerez, he still had French blood, and so opted to support the invaders during the War of Independence.

This provoked great anger and, on the 2nd of June 1808, a furious crowd assembled, baying for his blood. Priests did all they could to restore the peace and preach forgiveness, but the people weren’t in the mood to listen. So the mayor decided to let loose the bulls at the crowd – a more efficient remedy than today's rubber bullets and tear gas!

Juan Carlos now received “favours” from the French. In Napoleon’s name, Maréchal Soult awarded him the concession to supply the French troops. Farmers and bodegueros were forced to supply him with their wares which he then handed over to the French, but he was allowed him to keep the wine and provisions he wanted. Even worse, Juan Carlos shamelessly began to collect the taxes imposed by the French on the people to pay for the war. The first French troops arrived in Xerez (as it was called then) at mid-morning on the 4th February 1810, from where they initiated the siege of Cádiz. They left on the 26th August 1812. After two and a half years of occupation, endless looting, abuse and oppression, they left Jerez in total ruin and desolation. In 1811, Joseph Bonaparte (nicknamed unaffectionately “Pepe Botella”, or Joe the Bottle (who in fact was not a drinker) celebrated his Saint’s Day, in his requisitioned house in the Calle Francos, exactly one year before the “year of hunger”.

After the French had finally been expelled, Juan Carlos Haurie was totally ruined. He had to pay a fortune in compensation, and the French Government “forgot” to pay its debts to him. Haurie was left alone and penniless. He couldn't possibly pay his debts, and had to pay his capataz (cellarmaster) Juan Sánchez in brandy, wine, anís or even their containers. Things did not improve, and in 1815 he was declared fraudulently bankrupt, and jailed. By this time the other sobrinos had all died.

Pedro Domecq Lembeye (from Usquain, Béarn) was Juan Carlos Haurie's brilliant cousin and great nephew of Juan Haurie, Although born in Jerez, had been working in London with a firm called Gordon, Murphy and Co. who were Haurie's agents. He later formed a company called Ruskin, Telford and Domecq who for a while imported both Haurie and Duff Gordon wines. Eventually when Pedro Domecq returned to Spain, Ruskin (1785-1864, father of John Ruskin) acted as his agent and both prospered.

From 1822 the bodega del Castillo at the Puerta de Rota, the San Blas cooperage, 144 ares of vineyard in the Macharnudo and 22 in Parpalana were leased to Pedro Domecq, and he ended up buying the lot - and paying off some off the debt. He also re-purchased the Macharnudo vineyard Haurie had been forced to sell. As Domecq once rightly said “I managed to make my entire fortune in only two years of hard work”.

Pedro Domecq
Juan Carlos was a complete scoundrel. Despite his agreement with Domecq, in 1824 he founded a new partnership involving William Garvey, his nephew Juan Haurie and James Wilson using Domecq’s good name. Wilson came from Dunbar in Scotland, and his brother, a doctor, would do great work during the cholera epidemic of 1834. Haurie claimed to be the biggest shipper, but most of the wine was in fact shipped by Garvey and Wilson. Juan Carlos died in 1828. Haurie proceeded to go bust in 1841, again in 1855, stuttering on somehow till 1877, when Domecq took over entirely. According to Customs records, they exported 2,340 butts in 1870. Pedro Domecq meanwhile, was making a great reputation and becoming very prosperous, building what would become one of the great bodega firms.

See also the post: Juan Haurie, a Smart Businessman

No comments:

Post a Comment