Sunday, 22 April 2018

Bodegas: M&F Tosar

Juan Antonio Tosar Hernández was the son of Antonio Tossar, of Italian descent, and Beatriz Hernández. The family lived in Cádiz where young  Juan Antonio, or simply Antonio as he was known, married Bárbara Martínez García who was of noble birth and who bore him seven sons and two daughters before dying around 1835.Antonio was in the business of trade with the Spanish colonies in the Americas. As this trade began to decline, Antonio moved with his large young family to El Puerto de Santa María to try and restore their fortunes in the wine trade. 

Adolfo Tosar
By 1838 he had a modest bodega at Calle Espíritu Santo, 19, next to some houses in Calle Rosas which he had inherited from his mother. Over time these installations would be extended by two of his sons, Manuel and Francisco Javier Tosar Martínez who changed the company name to M&F Tosar and also installed a cooperage in an adjacent plot in 1846. Antonio died in 1850. Another son, Adolfo (1822-1880) went to London where he set up a sales office, and it would be he and his successors who would continue the business till the end. The brothers were hard working, efficient and husbanded their wines with great care, and by the 1860s they were among the leading firms in the area, despite the modest scale of their bodegas. They bought a house at Calle de la Plata, 6, where Manuel lived, remaining a bachelor, and in the basement they installed a sales office, tasting and meeting rooms.

The family home still stands, now a bridal wear shop
Francisco Javier died, also unmarried, in 1865 and divided his share of the business between his brothers Manuel and Adolfo and sister Amalia. When she died, her share was divided between Manuel and Adolfo and the company continued as M&F Tosar for another decade until the death of Manuel. By now the firm had reached its maximum potential and employed 20 people and had some 5,000 arrobas of stock including dozens of wines as well as brandy and vinegar. Everything had to be split among the remaining inheritors, but at least there were not many. In 1870 Adolfo married Manuela Zurutuza Fesser (b 1840). In 1873 he was back in El Puerto with his wife and two children to run the business at the behest of his elder brother who was ageing and infirm, but he did need to return to London from time to time. He was there when Manuel died in 1874. Adolfo’s two sons, Antonio and José, inherited one third each of Manuel’s share of the business and Adolfo continued to run it on his own as Adolfo Tosar & Cía till his death in 1880.

A label blank from the later years

The business continued in the hands of his wife Manuela Zurutuza and their now four children under the title Viuda de Adolfo Tosar & Cía. The name M&A Bayo Tosar was also occasionally used. The firm, which held a royal warrant, ceased trading in the early years of the XX century. At about this time, one of the daughters married an Osborne and another married José Antonio Ruiz de Cortázar who ran Bodegas Alonso Pajares.  In 1901 Manuela’s two sons, Manuel and Francisco Javier, established a brewery and sparkling waters business, Fábrica de Cervezas Tosar, in Calle Cielo, but despite a good start and a change of name to Cervecera Portuense in 1904, it didn’t last very long.

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