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Jerez de la Frontera

- by Don Harris

Jerez de la Frontera is an elegant town just about midway on the autopista between the glorious Sevilla of flowers and fountains, and the ancient port of Cádiz, the oldest city in Europe, with its labyrinth of streets and wonderful seafood.

Jerez has a charm all its own with plazas lined with orange trees and the rich aroma of the many sherry bodegas wafting through the evening air. Also in Jerez are the stables of the celebrated Royal Andalucían School of Equestrian Art, home of the Pura Raza Espanola - Andalusian horses.

Perhaps the finest time to visit this delightful region is late April and early May. Jerez celebrates a meaningful Semana Santa with processions that are more for the townspeople than tourists. The world-renowned processions are held in Sevilla, just a half an hour away.

Soon thereafter in early May the notable families of Jerez participate in the Feria de los Caballos - a wonderful experience of handsome horse drawn carriages, striking Andalucían horses, and equally lovely Andalucían ladies riding side saddle next to their handsome caballeros. At the feria there is racing as well as dressage and carriage competitions.

Jerez is noted for its vineyards as well, which produce sherry and artisan-aged vinegar. Continuity is maintained using the solera aging system by which wines of identical types are kept in groups of casks in ascending grades. The "blender" draws off wine from the oldest stock, replacing it with a similar amount of wine from the second oldest cask and so on so that the wine moves on progressively.

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