Sunday, 13 March 2016

Bodegas: A&A Sancho SA

This fine bodega was stablished in 1866 as Sancho Hermanos by the brothers Juan de Mata, Antonio, José Vicente and Hipólito, all of whom had achieved high levels of education. They bought an old bodega which may have been established in 1812, though this is not known for sure, from the almacenista María del Carmen González Encinas in 1868, buying two vineyards; La Pena and the 40 hectare Viña El Caribe in the Pago Añina in 1886 where they made wine and acted as almacenistas and exporters. The firm came to prominence later though, in the hands of Antonio’s son Alfonso.

The river is much closer than now. Taken @ 1890-1920

Alfonso Sancho Mateos (1858-1952) was born in Jerez, one of eleven children of the lawyer and joint owner of Sancho Hermanos, Antonio Sancho Díez de Alda-Sopranis and his wife María Antonia Mateos Valdés. (The name Sopranis comes from Alfonso’s grandmother’s family, originally from Genova, Italy). After primary education he studied for a year with the Jesuits in El Puerto de Santa María before further study in England in the early 1870s and then went to Hamburg and thence to Paris in 1877, where he earned a Diploma at the business school in 1879. In 1880-1881 he went to London from where he successfully represented the family bodega; in fact he made many trips abroad for this reason.

Alfonso Sancho
Alfonso married Mercedes Peñasco (1861-1929) in 1884 and they had three children: Félix, Alfonso and Mercedes. On the death of his father in 1903 and the dissolution of Sancho Hermanos, Alfonso inherited 40,000 litres of wine in 79 butts and Viña El Caribe. In 1905 he and his cousin changed the name of the firm to Alfonso & Hipólito Sancho in their Bodega Santa Ana in the Calle Aurora, 23. This bodega, built in 1837, had once belonged to the Marqués de Comillas (Viña del Pollero Alto). This doesn’t seem to have lasted beyond 1914 when he established A&A Sancho with his younger brother Antonio (1873-1940) in Calle Valdés, down from the bullring (now Bodegas 501). He had set up agencies in Paris, Bordeaux, London and New York and sales were good. The firm had a reputation for quality and good husbandry, and Alfonso was free with advice about re-planting after Phylloxera.

At a trade fair in Sevilla 1923 (foto:gentedelpuerto)

Alfonso was very enthusiastic to establish the Denominación de Origen and the Consejo Regulador of which he was a founder member, insisting that the production zone needed to be delimited legally.  He was a fervent promotor of the wines of El Puerto and campaigned to see them included in the delimitation, not just Jerez, as had been planned, and he organised and presided over a new association of Puerto de Santa María producers and exporters.

Alfonso(centre front) entertaining staff to lunch 1920

While his brother Antonio ran the firm Alfonso spent ever more time with civic duties. Among many accolades, he was the first president of the Academia de Bellas Artes 1900-1901. He was elected Mayor of El Puerto - without even having stood as a candidate- between 1924 and the fall of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in 1930, and during his mandate he began the much needed dredging and channelling of the river Guadalete in 1928.



Alfonso’s dedication to civic affairs, along with Prohibition in the USA gradually led to the decline of the firm, and he sold the stocks and brands in 1925 to Pedro Domecq, but not the bodega in Calle Valdés nor the vineyards which allowed him a seat at the Consejo as a grower . The bodega in Calle Aurora now belongs to Gutiérrez Colosía. The last decade of his life saw worsening blindness with his daughter Mercedes caring for him and reading him books. Alfonso Sancho will be remembered for his part in the establishment of the DO and Consejo Regulador and for his efforts on behalf of Sherry. The firm continued under various owners till the 1980s but its products cannot really be considered as those of A&A Sancho and they had different brand names.

Single vineyard Fino (all fotos:gentedelpuerto.com)

 Products: Amontillados Quijote, Si, Solera Majestad; Finos Caribe,  & Abuelo; Oloroso Único, Tres Cortados Hércules, Moscatel Fontanal, Quina Vincitor; Manzanilla Jota, Brandy Majestad

Much information gleaned from the work of Bernardo Rodriguez Caparrini, great grandson of Alfonso Sancho Mateos, in the excellent book "Nueve Bodegueros del Marco de Jerez" and his posts in the very interesting website Gente del Puerto.

3 comments:

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