Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bodegas: Lacave y Cia.

The firm was established in Cadiz in 1810 by Pedro Lacave, born in the Department of Lower Pyrenees in France in 1776. He left France due to food shortages in 1791 and went to Cadiz. His maternal uncle had a shop there and he worked there as an assistant  Later he worked in his cousin’s shipping business until he decided to start up on his own. He took on as a partner, one Mr McDermont and registered the business under the title “Lacave y Cia.” He married in 1821 a Jerez girl, Ana Maria Lacoste Salazar, but they had no children. After  Mcdermont’s death in 1824, Lacave carried on alone until 1832, when he took on another partner, his fellow countryman Pablo Echecopar, forming the house of Lacave & Echecopar.

Some years later, Lacave brought his three nephews to join the business and this proved to be a powerful influence on its prosperity, developing into banking, bodegas and industry. Lacave ships travelled everywhere freely, transporting Spanish goods direct to the markets avoiding the London monopoly on certain goods, especially Sherry. A quay was built at La Segunda Aguada on the outskirts of Cadiz on land purchased in 1849 for the storage of timber imported from Northern Europe for their own use and for selling to the cooperages of the Sherry country. This storage grew to occupy 90,000 square metres.

In 1848 Juan Pedro, delegated to Sevilla founded the company JP Lacave & Cia specialising in cereals, oil and cork. Meanwhile Pedro dedicated himself to the wine side of the business while the other partners looked after other aspects of the business, especially banking. Notable among these industrial firms were Los Amigos, a woollen cloth manufacturer in Sevilla and La Cartuja which manufactured porcelain and floor tiles. Pedro Lacave died in 1850, leaving his fortune to his nephews. Wine exports had progressed so well that the firm decided to drop other business and dedicate itself to wine. In 1870 the original company name Lacave & Cia. was re-adopted, and the firm even had installed its own railway for the transport of wine from the bodegas, not to mention a Civil Guard barracks!

These bodegas consisted of two large warehouses divided by pillars in which were to be found large stacks of cases, long rows of barrels and a bottle store. There were also offices, a tasting and sample room and a tool store where barrels were branded and labels applied. The dispatch warehouses gave onto the quayside, and in La Segunda Aguada there was a large area for washing barrels, equipped with all imaginable machinery for the manufacture of barrel hoops, wires and staples to secure the cased goods. There was a mechanised sawmill where around a hundred people worked. Except for the peace of the bodegas, all was noise and bustle.  On the quayside there was a huge mast for signalling to ships, and various cranes. There was also a bottling shop, two gas engines and three steam engines with two large boilers, They even had telephones a while before most citizens were able to have them.

Of the numerous wines they exported round the world, the most in demand – especially in France - was the golden sweet wine. Another equally successful style was the “Madeira” from Jerez and Malaga. The bodegas’ proximity to the sea added to the quality of their wines. Having owned vineyards, the firm decided it was more convenient to buy in grapes or must, but with the exception of Moscatel and Tintilla de Rota, where their property extended to over 5,000 m2. The buildings there formed a rectangle consisting of offices, living quarters for the vineyard manager and three large bodegas where the wine was produced.

The firm had incredible vitality. In 1811 they produced 35 hectolitres, and in 1896 they produced 19,375 hectolitres. Their top market was France, followed by the United States and Sweden – where such was their domination of the market that people would ask for a “Lacave” rather than a Sherry. But all good things come to an end and the company was taken over by Rumasa in 1978 with the soeras taken to Williams & Humbert. Where the  majestic Lacave bodegas once stood, blocks of housing now stand – in the barriada (district) Lacave!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing stuff!

    I'm so gutted that being from Cadiz I never saw this bodega! I'm to young to remember too.

    The bar called La Manzanilla in Cadiz's old town gets its manzanilla en rama from Delgado Zuleta. It's nice to think that perhaps the its wine comes from the soleras that once stood in the Segunda Aguada.

    Enjoy your trip to Jerez!