Damián de Goñi y Fernández, whose family originated in Navarra, was born in Cádiz in 1813, son of Damián de Goñi y Plou and María Jesus Fernández Rendón. His parents had made money in the Spanish colonies in South America, but which were gradually gaining independence. Those returning were nicknamed “Indianos” and usually very rich, and Damian de Goñi was one of them. He became a general merchant and like so many saw wine as more profitable.
When he was only two years old, the family moved from Cádiz to Jerez to start up a wine business from their home in what is now Calle Manuel María González. The house was on the first floor and the ground floor was the bodega, office and general store. His parents owned two vineyards in the Cerro del Pelayo. Young Damián began his career with a brief stint in diplomacy as Portuguese Vice Consul, but began work in the family bodega in 1832, and took it over in 1834, aged only 21, after the sudden death of his father.
|(Foto:La Imagen del Vino de Jerez)|
It was a good time to start. In 1825 English excise duty had been reduced and sales quadrupled. The Gremio de la Vinatera was abolished in 1834 offering a new found freedom for merchants dealing in wine. Damián had other interests including a flour mill jointly owned with Pedro Domecq and John David Gordon. In 1834 he joined forces with Feuerheerd & Co, a mercantile company established in 1815 by the Oporto born German Dietrich Matthias Feuerheerd, which later specialised in Port. Together they traded as De Goñi Feuerheerd & Co.
Like his father, Damián de Goñi died young, in 1839, and his uncle Justo de Goñi y Plou took over from him. The firm continued successfully throughout the rest of the century, exporting 1001 butts in 1856. De Goñi Feuerheerd opened a branch in London in 1860 jointly with their English agent Frank Wearne (whose daughter Edith was one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster), naming it Feuerheerd Wearne & Co Ltd, 4 New London St, London. The 1880s saw a new generation of the Feuerheerd family taking an increasing interest in Port.
|(foto:La Imagen del Vino de Jerez)|
The XX century brought change and some of the de Goñi bodegas were sold off in 1900. By 1911 De Goñi Feuerheerd & Co had their own branch in London at 47 Mark Lane, but it didn’t last long. Barros Almeida bought out Feuerheerd in 1926 and later merged it with another subsidiary, Hutcheson, and the de Goñi Sherry interests were bought by González Byass in 1927.