I don't often drink sherry, but when in Jerez... as part of our bus excursion, we spent a few hours touring the Bodegas Tio Pepe, where we learned all about how they manufacture sherry. Although I live in California, I've never been on a winery tour. Crazy, right? I love a good (aka any) glass of wine. The tour at Tio Pepe is what I imagine a winery tour to be like, except substitute sherry; wine with brandy and a higher alcohol content.
We started in the lobby, where we looked at pictures of celebrities who have visited Tio Pepe.
I like funny signs. I found this one in the restroom.
The first stop in the tour was a outdoor covered arena with barrels of Tio Pepe sherry stacked sky- high. Many of the barrels had pictures of flags from countries around the world.
Next, our tour guide took us inside of the factory. The sweet, syrup fragrance of the sherry was over-powering. It was too much for the kids, who held their nose in disgust until granny took them back outside. Even as an adult, the intensity of the smell was hard to handle.
The not-so-secret sherry formula.
We walked through beautiful courtyards that connected the buildings.
Posing with Mr. Tio Pepe.
We entered a reception area filled with antique furniture.
Which led to a dim, dusty room with streaming sunlight. The room held enormous barrels, antique equipment, and candelabras that were straight out of The Phantom of the Opera.
Another beautiful connecting courtyard.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was taking look at the barrels signed by royalty and celebrities. Plenty of famous visitors!
My absolute favorite part of the Bodega Tio Pepe is their unique way of dealing with rodents... graciously, leaving them a glass of sherry and a little ladder!
A few snaps on our way to the sherry tasting room.
In complete contrast to the older buildings, the sherry tasting room was a modern marvel. It was like one of the pavilions in EPCOT. We were given two tastings, admittedly, I didn't care for either. I found the sweeter of the two, to be slightly more palatable.
Naturally, all tours end at the gift shop. The Tio Pepe gift shop was huge. Even though we weren't thrilled with the tasting, it didn't stop us from buying several bottles of sherry, flavors that we didn't have a chance to try. As of this posting, we still haven't tried them. We need to have a party and break them out!
Coming next...the world famous Jerez horse show!