José María Molina y Lamata worked as an agronomist at Bodegas Misa in Jerez before leaving to establish his own bodega in 1870 at Calle Honsario. This was a very old street in the Barrio San Pedro which had once been the site of the Jewish cemetery in medieval times. With the knowledge and experience he had gained from Misa, his business was very successful, gaining an excellent international clientele.
In 1884 he moved to a bodega complex in Calle Clavel, 29 which had once belonged to Carlos Haurie and now belongs to Emilio Hidalgo. This was the result of forming a partnership with Servando Álvarez Algeciras, who had a bodega in Calle Carpinteros in the Barrio Santiago. Servando provided financial backing and commercial experience while José María ran the bodegas and provided the winemaking skills. Servando married the daughter of fellow bodeguero Pedro Beigbeder y Casenave.
The Calle Clavel complex consisted of three bodegas, two for storage and ageing and the other, which held 2,500 butts, was for preparing wines for export. Here they had an impressive range of modern conveniences: a bottle washing machine, a bottling line, corking machine, cork-branding machine and capsuling machine. Not only that but they had a steam boiler for cleaning butts, a 10 horsepower steam engine, a still for brandy production and a cooperage.
Together they successfully exploited many European markets like Germany, France, Holland and Switzerland as well as the transatlantic ones of the USA, Mexico and much of Latin America. The firm reached its heyday in the late XIX and early XX centuries, but the partners were ageing. After the death of José María Molina around 1908, Servando Álvarez bought over the firm but before long sold it to Emilio Hidalgo. His bodega in Calle Carpinteros was demolished to make way for a school somewhere about 1912.
Bodegas Molina had an ample range of wines and their Sherries included Palido, Oloroso, Amontillado, Fino, Tres Cortados, Manzanilla, Moscatel , Moscatel Quinado and PX as well as home-made Málaga, Madeira, Port, Tintilla, and of course, brandy “Cognac Fine Champagne”. Some other brands were Abuelo, Imperial Molina, Jerez Para Enfermos, Vino Para Consagrar.