Monday, 3 August 2015

Bodegas: Viuda de Manjón

Leona Mergelina was born in Sanlúcar in 1822, daughter of a sea captain from Alicante, Joaquín de Mergelina and his wife Eduarda Gómez de Barreda y Gutiérrez de Henestrosa, from Sanlúcar. In 1845, Leona married Pedro Manjón y Fernández de Valdespino, originally from Asturias, and after spending some time in politics, he and Leona established a wine business. They bought no fewer than 4,000 butts and some fine vineyards: La Palmosa, half of Ėvora and the Rancho La Pastrana.

A view of the bodega (
The business prospered and they lived in a lovely bourgeois palace in the Plaza del Pradillo built in the XVII century by the Moreda family who were cargadores de Indias. Known as the Casa Manjón, the house is still occupied by that family, who have kept it in extremely good condition.

In 1865 Pedro died, but Leona continued to live in the family home, also known as the Casa de las Moredas in Sanlúcar, with her younger children. She was a great entrepreneur and not only continued the family bodega, but built it up to some 6,000 butts, bought parcels of land and planted the vineyard El Rocío, which would later supply wine for her Manzanilla brand El Rocío. The (original) label for this was designed by the Jerez painter, González Ragel and depicts a scene from the famous annual pilgrimage to El Rocío. (see separate post on El Rocio)

Original El Rocio label (foto:+jerez)
Trading under the name Viuda (widow) Manjón as an exporter as well as an almacenista, the firm’s wine was sold not only in Spain, but as far afield as Cuba, Argentina and England. In 1871 Leona bought another bodega: El Solar, situated in the same block as her home, and this purchase provided the name for another Manzanilla brand. She also traded under the name Leona Mergelina. King Alfonso XII visited the bodega in 1879, the only one he visited on that occasion, and was offered a glass of the bodega’s best Manzanilla.

Manzanilla Leona (
Leona died in 1900 in Sevilla, but one of her daughters, Regla Manjón (1851-1938), continued with the business as well as cultivating art and poetry and building up art and archaeological collections, thus creating the Casa-Museo de la Calle Cuna in Sevilla. Regla married Royal Artilleryman Federico Sánchez Bedoya in 1895, but after only three years of marriage, found herself a widow, but also the Condesa de Lebrija. Between 1905 and 1934 she used the trading name of Regla Manjón, Viuda de Sánchez Bedoya and in 1923 added a couple more brands to the list: Casabal and Las Monedas, the latter having belonged to her aunt Joaquina Mergelina.

Bodega interior (
The firm had long had trading links with González Byass who, after Regla’s death without issue, bought part of the business including the Manzanilla brand El Rocio. GB had a bodega in the Banda Playa where they stored the Manzanilla, but they no longer produce it. The rest of the business as well as the family home were retained by her nephew, Pedro Armero Manjón, Conde de Bustillo (1886-1967). Pedro was a businessman and once mayor of Sevilla and he ran the bodega under the name Sucesores de R Manjón which was gradually sold off.

Interior patio of the bodegas (
One of the most stunning of all the Sherry bodegas is La Arboledilla which was built in1875 and was the highest traditional bodega in the Marco de Jerez (12.5 metres) until the higher La Mezquita was built by Domecq in the 1970s. It was once owned by Manjón as the photographs show, and passed through the hands of Nueva Rumasa to Barbadillo who own it now.

Bodega La Arboledilla (
The various Manzanilla brands included: Cañaveral, Kachivache, El Rocío, Leona, Montañeses, Solar and Ballesteros, while various other wines were produced as well as Brandy Toreador.

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