Thursday, 2 March 2017

Origins of Some Interesting Vineyard Names

Jerez is known as the “city of bodegas” but they would be of little use without the vineyards which supply them. In the past, when there was more value attached to the vineyards, many Sherry brands and soleras were named after the particular vineyard the grapes came from. Unfortunately there are very few left. Many vineyards have intriguing and historic names and here are a few:

Viña El Caribe is named after a former owner, one Francisco Ponce, a colonel in the Jerez militia who was nicknamed “El Caribe” for his terrible temper and aggression. This nickname originates from the Caribes, a tribe living on various islands in the Caribbean (which was named after them) who fiercely resisted the early colonists who accused them of cannibalism. The 40 hectare vineyard is in the Pago Añina and was sold by Ponce to A&A Sancho in 1886. Here they produced their Fino Caribe. It is said that some vines from the vineyard were sent to America, and that while they grew well there, the wine bore little resemblance to that of Jerez. Sancho sold out to Domecq in 1925. The vineyard now belongs to the Espinosa family, owners of Diez-Mérito.

Viña (La) Tula is named after María Gertrudis de Salas, Tula being an abbreviation of Gertrudis. She was the wife of José María López Martínez, a landowner, bodeguero, merchant and mayor of El Puerto, who bought the vineyard in 1820 and constructed the casa de viña. It has a rather idiosyncratic design, resembling a Moorish castle in places, and there were once even cannons at the battlements. The vineyard was first planted in 1752 and extended in 1765 by Crisanto Winthuyssen on land inherited from his parents in the Pago Balbaina – which is thought to be named after an old Cádiz family, the Balbos. The 25 hectare vineyard passed to Vicente Urruela Castrisiones and later to González Byass who used to sell Amontillado Seco Viña Tula as a single vineyard wine.

Vina Tula

Viña Campbell / Viña María Luisa. Charles Sutton Campbell, an English merchant of Scottish descent, grouped together three adjacent plots he bought from Juana Lynch, Francisco Martínez and María Dolores Vaca between 1844 and 1850. He named the vineyard, not far from El Puerto in the Pago Balbaina after his late wife, Maria Luisa Walsh Lynch who died young. Campbell made the wine here and it was transported to his bodegas in El Puerto for ageing.

Viña El Telégrafo in the Pago Capirete is named after one of the 59 optical telegraph towers – or more accurately signal towers - which provided visual communication, principally for military purposes, between Cádiz and Madrid. They were constructed between the end of the XVIII and mid XIX centuries, and there was one built in 1850 next to this vineyard, the highest in the pago, but by the 1860s the electric telegraph had superseded them. The site of the tower is now occupied by a bodega. The 55 hectare vineyard was owned by M Gil Luque who were taken over by La Guita which is now owned by Grupo Estévez.

Viña La Canariera is located in the Pago Carrascal and the casa de viña was built by González Byass in 1846. It is much used by the firm for social and educational activities. The name means “canary cage” because there was once a large canary cage here. The sound of birdsong must have been  wonderful during the stresses of winemaking.

Viña El Corregidor is a 60 hectare albariza vineyard in the Pago Carrascal, the pago farthest from the sea, and the casa de viña was constructed between the end of the XVII and beginning of the XVIII centuries. It was bought by Sandeman in the 1880s. The name Corregidor translates as “magistrate” and simply derives from the fact that this was once the local magistrate’s  house. Grapes for Sandeman’s Royal Corregidor and Imperial Corregidor Olorosos came from here. The estate passed through the hands of Nueva Rumasa before being bought by Bodegas Luis Pérez. Corregidor grapes now supply Willy Pérez’ Barajuela wines.

Pago de Ducha can be found not far from Jerez airport and has about 35 hectares. Its name (which means “shower” in modern Spanish) originates from the Arabic “Duyya”, a farm. Some of this vineyard was once owned by the monks of the Cartuja, Jerez’ beautiful Carthusian monastery. The casa de viña had a little oratory with a painting of the virgin and child, and the bell used to be rung to summon the workers to mass.

Viña de Dios is in the Pago de Ducha. It has a nicely built mid XIX century casa de viña with a lagar and a bodega, but it fell into disuse in the 1970s and is very dilapidated now and there is no longer any vineyard. It was named thus after the hill it stands on which was likened to Mount Carmel (which translates as “God’s vineyard”). Right next to Viña de Dios is:

(picture: entornoajerez)

Viña del Diablo, also in Pago de Ducha. It was one of the first to be affected by the arrival of Phylloxera in 1894. Even now much of the vineyard in the area is gone, having been replaced with other dry-farmed crops such as cereals, almonds, carob etc. It was bought by Garvey in the 1980s who upgraded the buildings and re-named it Viña San Patricio, and it now belongs to Diez Mérito. The reason for the name Diablo is no longer known but it has been suggested that phylloxera was the devil’s work. Unfortunately it is not known whether Dios or Diablo was named first.

Cantarranas is a pago in the Las Tablas area 4 km north west of Jerez with clay soil. Cantarranas means “frog song” and it takes its name from an adjacent cañada (gully) where frogs would gather for a singsong if there was any water, and there would certainly be moisture in the clay.

Raboatún (or Rabatún) is a pago just at the north western city limit of Jerez. The word could be translated as “tuna tail”, but in fact it dates back to the medieval Arabic word “rabita” or “ribat” which means a fortified building usually in a frontier area for religious and military purposes. This one has disappeared and its site is now occupied by housing, but the name is thought to stem from “ribat-al-Yun” a sort of watchtower associated with one of the access roads to Jerez in Islamic times. There are many place names all over Spain with a similar toponymy.

Anaferas is a pago just southwest of Jerez. Its name is Arabic and refers to “anafes” which were small ceramic ovens used for cooking in Moorish times. The vineyards here are “barros” with a lot of clay in the soil, perfect for making the anafes.

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