One of many stories about Sherry Wine, but not an ordinary one.

This story speaks of the land, the vineyard and its care, but it also speaks of the effort and dedication of the winegrowers of the Marco de Jerez, guardians of traditions passed down from generation to generation, and also about the work and labor in the vineyard that determine the character and quality of these unique wines.

It is a story about the relationship of man with the land, but it is also the story of the daily struggle of the winegrowers of the cooperative of Las Angustias, of the passion and the illusion inherited from the founders who created the cooperative of Jerez in 1967, born to preserve the social character of the vine, from that crop the Phoenicians introduced in the province of Cádiz in the eighth century BC to later spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula. But that is another story that started about three thousand years ago.

The Marco de Jerez, the southernmost wine region in Europe, covers an area of about 7,000 hectares of vineyards and spread over eight municipalities in the province. Half of these vineyards are in the hands of winegrowers associated with one of the seven cooperatives of the Marco, including Las Angustias, the largest of all, with a cultivated area of about 1,400 hectares and over 200 members.

A story of illusion and daily effort that began in 1967.

Today known by the acronym COVIJEREZ, the cooperative Nuestra Señora de las Angustias was founded in 1967 by a group of thirty winegrowers who, full of enthusiasm and passion, decided to join forces to defend their common interests.

The beginnings were not easy. They knew a lot about vineyards but little about winemaking, yet they had to do both. They were winegrowers by day and winemakers by night; and they put their souls into learning how to make those wines they where starting to sell.

At the end of the 1960s, when they began, the Sherry wine sector entered one of its multiple crises. Mistakes of the past were repeated; the wineries bet everything on volume production.

The consequence was a plummeting of sales and the cultivated area, which had reached 20,000 hectares, three times the current area. This lack of demand was transferred to the vineyard and is it when this group of producers ventured an association to store their productions avoiding low price sales or worst, being forced to throw the grapes away.

The late Don Manuel Monje, the cooperative’s first president, was the one who brought together this group of winegrowers, including Pepe Sierra, who would also serve as president and was named Honorary President on the occasion of the cooperative’s fiftieth anniversary in 2017.

Sierra recounted the difficult beginnings of the company, which in the end only half of those initially interested joined due to the economic effort required, at that particularly delicate time.

It took them two years to build the winery, which has been expanding its facilities from the outskirts of Jerez, and is now fully integrated into the city. Once it was up and running, that group of visionaries who began by selling their wines to bigger companies, made the leap from selling in bulk to marketing their own brands. Even today, the cooperative maintains the custom rooted in the area, of selling in bulk through its wine office. The Fino Sin Pecado, the cooperative’s first commercial brand, is available there, followed by the ‘Romerito‘ range of Amontillado, Oloroso, Cream, Médium, Pedro Ximénez and Vinagre 1967. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the cooperative launched a Palo Cortado ROMERITO on the market.

Preserving the origin, looking to the future.

Now the Marco de Jerez looks back at the origin, the vineyard and the terroir, which make the difference. They tell the story of the cooperative of Las Angustias, of the commitment of these more than 200 anonymous faces of the wines of Jerez to maintain those crops the Phoenicians introduced in the province of Cádiz. But that is another story that started three thousand years ago…

Pictures by Jesús Salido.