José María Fernández y González was born in Sevilla in 1844 and in 1888 established a Sherry business based in bodegas in the Calle Arcos in Jerez, which had once belonged to the bodeguero José María Fernández y López, who sold wines in the early days to Manuel María González Ángel.
Here he installed wine and equipment bought from Matthiesen Furlong. The latter had been established in London in 1834 and used as a bodega an old monastery abandoned by the Jesuits after their expulsion in 1835. On the Jesuits’ return in 1884 the firm was wound up. José María bought a vineyard as well, Viña San Agustín, and was thus mostly self-sufficient for supplies of mosto.
In 1896 he was joined by Manuel Cantillo y García, and on his death in 1914 his sons joined the business which became Hijos de Fernández-Gao González then Fernández-Gao Hermanos. In 1959 the name was changed to Ramiro Fernández-Gao y González until 1966 when they merged with neighbours MacKenzie, for whom Ramiro went on to work. MacKenzie was soon taken over by Harveys, and what with endless corporate takeovers, Harveys now belongs to Emperador. The old bodega in Calle Arcos now belongs to Lustau.
The firm’s best known brands were: Fino La Mina, Amontillado Fino El 68, Royal Sherry and the brandies Coñac Legendario, Brandy Novecientos Cuatro, Brandy Timonel.