Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Bodegas: M Gil Galan

In the heyday of Sherry there was a proliferation of small bodegas, usually family run, and which contributed to the glory of Sherry. Some had two or three hundred butts, some were just almacenistas, and some were bigger with up to a couple of thousand butts. These latter were big enough to need coopers, administrators, maintenance people, and as such were a source of employment. In general they either marketed their own brands or supplied wine to the bigger firms. Many had to try and sell their produce in smaller towns as the big cities were dominated by the big shippers.

M Gil Galan was a small to medium sized family bodega founded sometime in the 1920s by M Gil Galan. It was certainly listed as a bodega by 1933. The founder left it to his two sons Francisco and Anselmo Gil Ceballos. Initially the bodega was situated in the Plaza de las Cocheras, but they later moved to Calle Ferrocarril, 14.

(Foto Jerez Siempre)
It was well equipped, and there was plenty of well-lit office space with views over the loading patio, in which there were also carpentry and cooperage facilities. The two bodega buildings formed an L shape, one for the bottling equipment and the other for ageing the wines. They exported a fair amount, principally to European countries but also further afield, sometimes under the sous-marque FG Ceballos. To that end they had a specific foreign trade department. Another sale technique was sending out letters, often in rather poor English, but they did secure interesting business in the Dutch Antilles, Curacao, South Africa, Canada, and the Philippines, for example.

Twenty employees – and a few extra at Christmas to help fulfil bigger seasonal orders – produced quite a variety of brands. Perhaps the most famous of these, because of its name and its label is that of Oloroso Falange Española. While M Gil Galan was still running the bodega, the Spanish Civil War broke out, and he felt it would be safer to at least appear to support the ruling Right by designing this label. It shows a young man resplendent in his uniform of the Falange, a right wing militaristic party founded by another Jerezano, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera.

By the mid 1960's the bodega had merged with a sister company M Gil Luque, and by the end of the 1980s, with over-supply and prices falling, this proud bodega – like so many others - was finally forced to close its doors, though M Gil Luque survives as part of Grupo Estevez.

Their principal brands were:

Various wines under the Gil Galan name, Fino Condesa, Oloroso Falange Española, Oloroso España, Vino de Jesucristo (a tonic wine with added iron), Solera 1890 Brandy, Coñac Formidable, Quina Santiago, White Rum, Anis La Sirena, and many more.

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