The Grupo Estévez proposal to construct a distillery in the Marco de Jerez is attracting support. The association of independent growers (Asevi-Asaja) has added its weight to the idea - which is not new - and the Junta’s agriculture department has even carried out experiments in the vineyard to determine its viability. The attraction is that it would generate more wealth in the area, which would stay in the area, and benefit all concerned in Sherry production.
The European Union has funded investment in Cádiz (ITI) and some bodegas and many growers would like to see some of it spent on a distillery. Such a project would not only reduce overproduction but would also require the planting of more vineyard to supply the distillery with raw material.
Currently the Marco de Jerez has 6,500 hectares of vineyard in production after the grubbing-up of more than a third of the vineyards in recent years to balance supply and demand. Most of the grubbing-up was financed by EU money in a programme to reduce overproduction of wine in Europe. Much vineyard was also abandoned as growers couldn’t make a profit. It is felt that the distillery would ensure that everything which goes into a bottle Sherry should come from Jerez and that it would provide jobs in an area particularly badly hit by unemployment.
Grupo Estévez is happy to help and feel that the cooperatives would be in the best position to operate the distillery. José Ramón Estévez, president of the group, feels that beyond just producing fortification alcohol, the distillery could go on to produce brandy as well, and that would mean more vineyard and thus more jobs. Estévez are already fortifying with spirit produced from Jerez grapes (though currently distilled in Tomelloso) and would very much like to see a local distillery produce the spirit for 100% Jerez Sherry which would bring with it the possibility of the higher DO level of Denominación de Origen Calificada.