Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Bodegas: Manuel Guerrero y Cia./A Parra Guerrero

Pedro Guerrero Castro was born in Grazalema in 1831 into a family working for the Real Fábrica de Paños (Royal cloth factory), but as that market declined they worked increasingly with wine and spirits. At the time the state was selling off Church property and Pedro’s father, José Guerrero Ruiz bought some fincas cheaply in the Jerez area.

Where it all began: Finca el Colmenar in Grazalema

In 1838 the family moved to Jerez. Pedro’s younger brother Manuel was barely two years old and was carried Jerez in one pannier of a donkey, counterbalanced by a stone in the other. Pedro grew up in Jerez and became a doctor in 1855, but became so involved in the growing family business, that he only had time to treat members of the workforce who couldn’t afford a doctor.

Pedro married María de la Paz Lozano Jiménez and they had nine children. He sent his younger brothers to the agriculture school in Madrid and then on an international tour so they could learn about the latest advances and appliances. Meanwhile he set about buying more land, ending up farming cork, olives, corn, oranges, hay and of course grapes. Modern stable blocks were built for the Andalusian horses, and pigsties and pens for pigs which got acorns from their forest. The Guerrero Hermanos also had sheep, goats, mules, donkeys and hundreds of cows.

Their most outstanding achievement was the horse breeding, however. They achieved great fame, winning all sorts of prizes and races with the finest horses in Spain. Pedro was also involved in local politics and was awarded a knighthood of the Order of Isabel the Catholic. All this was on top of the winegrowing business, and many vineyards were planted which supplied the soleras, some of which they had brought from Grazalema. They were Sherry growers, almacenistas and exporters with bodegas in the Calle Vid.

Pedro died in 1904, and it was his son, Manuel Guerrero y Lozano, born in Jerez in 1872, who continued the business. Manuel married Dolores González Gordon and lived with their five children in the Calle Corredera, 51, a lovely house in the barrio San Miguel with a central patio.

Their sons Ramón (1924-2012) and Manuel Guerrero González took over the business when their father died in 1955. At some point they became suppliers to the Spanish royal household, and in the 1960s entertained the British Princess Mary.  The bodega often used the image of the horse and always a horseshoe in its labels and publicity, as horses were such a family passion.

Ramón continued with the business after his brother’s death. After Pedro’s death however, the driving force was lost and things slowly went downhill - though less so with the horses. The properties in Grazalema were sold and the bodega was given to María Guerrero de Castro, Pedro’s sister, bu now very old, to manage and she passed it on to her nephew, Antonio Parra Guerrero, born in 1901 and last in that branch of the family, who ran it successfully under his own name  till his death in 1977 when it closed down. Oddly the RE (bottler registration numbers) are different for Manuel Guerrero and Parra Guerrero.

Antonio Parra Guerrero

Guerrero Sherry brands included:
Manzanilla La Jaca Andaluza, Amontillado Solito, Pedro Ximénez Viejísimo, Preferido, Brandy Viejísimo ganador

Parra Guerrero Sherry brands included:
Fino Patrimonio, Oloroso Rey Sol, Amontillado los Mellizos, India Cream, Vino de la Reconquista, Tres Cortados 1840

The firm also had the oldest brandy soleras in Jerez, dating from the late XVIII century and originally distilled at the family finca “El Colmenar” (the beehive) in Grazalema (the source of the river Guadalete).
Reconquista solera 1768 and Rey Sol solera Antiquísima

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