About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Osborne - El Puerto de Santa María, Spain

When I was planning my trip to southern Spain to learn more about this dramatic region and in particular sherry. I sent a note to the Osborne Sherry Company in the chance that my schedule may fit in with meeting with their chief winemaker and key staff. I have always respected the reputation of the Osborne Sherry Company (founded by Thomas Osborne Mann, an Englishman in 1772). To many they are recognised for erecting large images of bulls across the countryside, starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. They were in black (with the brand ‘Veterano in red on it) advertising boardings located on sites near to major roads throughout Spain. 


Later on a new law was passed in 1994, this time prohibiting such advertising, and so the boardings were to be removed. By this time the signs were nationally renowned, so although some campaigners wished them completely removed to fully comply with the intent of the law, public response resulted in the signs being retained, but completely blacked out to remove all reference to the original advertisers. The Court eventually allowed these signs to remain on the grounds that it has become a part of the landscape where it is present and its ‘aesthetic or cultural significance’ thus turning it into a figure of public domain. The black bull has become a symbolic icon for Spain, the image of the bull is now displayed on the national Davis-Cup Tennis teams’ shirts, and the bull is embedded by supporters in the Flag of Spain in the manner of a coat of arms.

Osborne is Spain’s most prestigious producer of wines and spirits. Its headquarters are based in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain, in the famous brandy and sherry-producing region of Jerez. Osborne currently produces world-renowned brandy, sherry, port, fine regional wines and anise liqueur.
Founded in 1772, Osborne is one of the oldest firms of wine and spirit producers in Spain. Upon Thomas Osborne Mann’s death, his sons, Thomas and John, inherited the business. While John served as a Spanish diplomat, Thomas distinguished himself as an industrious and enterprising manager of Osborne, and in 1869. Thomas received the hereditary title of Count of Osborne, making him the first producer of wines and spirits to possess a noble title.


Since those early years, Osborne has remained in family hands. Today, Mr. Tomás Osborne Gamero-Cívico, the fifth Count of Osborne, directs the Company as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Osborne’s winery located in Puerto de Santa María - where nothing is improvised, with cellars designed specifically for making sherry. The barrel halls face South and Southwest, so as to welcome the sea breeze, with high ceilings to allow fresh air to circulate and subdued lighting. All these factors are essential when it comes to making a perfect wine.

Names such as ‘Buenos Aires’, ‘Carraca’ or ‘San José’ recall some of the best cellars where Osborne makes and stores Finos, Amontillados, Olorosos and sweet sherry wines like PX. Procedures are supervised by José Ignacio Lozano, the technical director for Puerto de Santa María, where he oversees a total of 20,000 casks. José and my other host for the day Concepcion took me on a visit to the company’s own onsite cooperage, where two coopers were repairing and re-building their own barrels.


Under Jerez-Xèrés-Sherry and Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda appellation, Osborne sells the following brands: ‘Fino Quinta’, ‘Manzanilla Cara de Gallo’, ‘Fino Amontillado Coquinero’, ‘Oloroso Seco Bailén’, ‘Oloroso Médium 10RF’, ‘Santa María Cream’, ‘Pedro Ximénez 1827’ and aged wines ‘Solera AOS’, ‘Solera BC 200’, ‘Solera India’, ‘Solera P_P’ and ‘Pedro Ximénez Viejo’. 
Total annual production exceeds 5 million bottles, of which approx 51% is Fino, and 47% being Oloroso, medium and sweet sherry and 2% Manzanilla, 80% of production is exported to over 30 countries.

I had the opportunity during the day to sample their fine Brandies and commercial Sherries, plus an extremely rare opportunity to taste the private family stocks of a 90+ year old PX Sherry, alongside other limited production family sherries. During the very insightful Sherry tasting - I was given the opportunity to enjoy their own critically renowned Iberico ham (reared on acorns and with ‘Designation of Origin’ status).
I could have rightly thought that was the end to a great day, but an unexpected surprise was to come and one that I still pinch myself regularly - to ensure that it wasn’t a dream. Alongside dignitaries, famous international athletes, performers and the king of Spain - I was given an exclusive place in history by being offered a barrel to sign in the cellar across from the family offices. Those who know me well - know that I am never short of a word, or comment when it comes to wine - but I was very humbled and had to take a moment when this was presented to me and had to take a deep breath and compose myself before I signed the barrel and had my photo taken. As you can imagine - my trusty annual European travelling companions have offered their support to help me work my way through the barrel.


Generation upon generation (now the seventh generation), the Osborne family has managed a company devoted to making and ageing sherry wines and brandies that are appreciated around the world. Their key to success is a family tradition combined with ongoing innovation and careful management committed to upholding quality; aware of their tradition, but at the same time enthusiastic about growth and innovation. It was a real pleasure to have the Osborne Family experience - a true highlight in my wine career and one I will never forget.

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