Recently a friend and I went on a really interesting tour of the vineyards around Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María with Salvador Pineda who runs an excellent local tour business called Rutasiete. He picked us up in his 4x4 and we began with a visit to the beautiful Cartuja monastery just outside Jerez, close to the banks of the river Guadalete. This beautiful building was constructed in the late XV and early XVI centuries on the site where the locals defeated the Moors in the battle of Salado, with the help of the Virgin Mary it is said, and to whom the monastery is dedicated.
We then drove towards El Puerto via various spectacular viewpoints, which give one a very clear idea of the landscape, through the albariza soils of the Pagos Balbaina and Añina. With the harvest over, all the vineyards had been “aserpiado”, meaning that deep grooves had been formed in the soil to retain rainwater - though there was not much sign of that yet. Passing by so many famous vineyards we saw many of the pretty casas de viña, most of which are thankfully intact and still used, but there is the occasional sad ruin. We then headed via the Pago Carrascal to the famous Pago Macharnudo. Here at a winery, our guide offered us a picnic which very thoughtfully contained some Fino Inocente, which we relished as we looked out over the vineyard which produced it toward the Castillo de Macharnudo, munching almonds from the tree.
Salvador is great company and really knows his stuff, and the tour, which lasted about three hours, was delightful. I would thoroughly recommend it. In fact he does various tours such as the Alcornocales Natural Park and the Guadalquivir marshes, so to find out more simply search for: