Wine cellars

Andalusia has an important wine cellar patrimony, mainly built from the late years of the XVIIIth century, and especially during the XIXth century. Nevertheless, there is evidence of the existence of wine cellars in the Jerez area from mid XIIIth century, during the Islamic domination.  

There are wine cellars spread all around the Andalusian geography (Córdoba, Huelva, Málaga…)  but the area where there is a bigger wine production, and in consequence, a bigger number of cellars, is the so-called “Marco de Jerez” (Jerez's Frame), which includes Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and San Lúcar de Barrameda.

These spacious buildings were built for the storage and ageing of wine. Initially, they were very simple constructions, but throughout time they have evolved and become important building complexes, including house offices, bottling areas, gardens, yards, etc. apart from the storage area.

The traditional wine cellars consist in big warehouses with factory walls made of brick and covered with two-sided tile gables over a joist structure, supported by slender pillars or brick arcades. Wineskins are stored inside, placed in different superimposed rows.

Wine production is a fact attached culturally and historically to this land, and wine cellars represent an essential part of its urban landscape. Currently, this valuable heritage is affected by industrial obsolescence and abandoned.

Luckily, the cultural awareness of society is avoiding this heritage from disappearing, and urban plannings protect these buildings from being demolished. New urban plannings promote the preservation and reuse of wine cellars, allowing its transformation in order to house new uses. 

But wine cellars are not industrial constructions with great specificity, they are like big containers, and this helps the transformation processes. This way, there have been many examples of use changes in order to turn them into schools, warehouses, workshops, garages, barracks, restaurants, hotels, homes, galleries, supermarkets and more recently into reception rooms, which has allowed its preservation without changing its specialty and its urban presence a lot.

Recently some very interesting experiments have been carried out dealing with housing transformations, such as those done by the “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda de Jerez”, restoring three wine cellars in order to turn them into lofts. The winery “El Cantón”, in Puerta de Rota, represents one of the biggest winery complexes in Jerez, with eight warehouses, and a very respectful transformation has been done on it, placing gardens and a swimming-pool in the old work yard.

There are also examples of transformation of small cellars in houses, with beautiful and singular results regarding space and form. Imaginative solutions that have made the transformation of these constructions of big historical and oenological interest possible, keeping its architectural and urban values.