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Sherry cellar-masters win awards in Madrid

On Monday 20th June the award ceremony took place in the I Gastroactitud Commitment to the Land Awards in support of the efforts of those unknown or little-known people who work to produce good food and drink; producers backed by remarkable stories and the high standard of their work.

Jerez 21st June 2016. The anonymous work of dozens of cellar-masters among the rows of stacked barrels in the bodegas of Jerez, whose sophisticated knowledge makes possible a wine of such unequalled characteristics, has been rewarded at an event in Madrid which brought together the very best of Spanish gastronomy.

The intention of this recognition is to reward the value of the work of generations of cellar-masters who have acted as genuine custodians of winemaking traditions. Julia Pérez Lozano and José Carlos Capel, who run the foremost gastronomic website in Spain (gastroactitud.com) wanted to highlight the reawakened interest in the wines of Jerez and their importance in the national and international gastronomic panorama. They also wanted to pay homage to the maintenance of traditional methods of fortified winemaking in a unique place, and the sustainable economy it represents.

The cellar-masters of the Jerez area were represented by Pepe Blandino, cellar-master at Bodegas Tradición who accepted the award from the chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, who acted as master of ceremonies.

Pepe Blandino has devoted his entire life to wine. His career spans 53 years working in Sherry bodegas, much of it at Pedro Domecq, and ending up at at Bodegas Tradición. The son of an “arrumbador” (a man who moves barrels), the grandson of a cooper and father of the current cellar-master, he is living proof of the importance of the passing-on of knowledge down the generations of the family.

Accepting the award, Pepe said “It is a great honour for all those of us who work in bodegas to see our efforts recognised. I am personally very proud to receive the award on behalf of all my fellow workers.”
The choice of Aduriz as master of ceremonies was not accidental. Since the opening of his restaurant, Mugaritz, he and his team have worked closely with local suppliers to recuperate and give added value to supposedly humble or little-known ingredients which his kitchen then turned into gastronomic milestones. 

Also in this initiative is Makro, in whose premises the awards ceremony took place, and whose innovative programme Alma Makro is promoting the tradition of gastronomy. They have created a network of small local producers and have committed themselves to buying most of their produce and selling it at cost, thus establishing links to chefs in their respective places.

The NH Hotel Group, a chain of hotels recognised for its promotion of gastronomy, also supported the awards, demonstrating once more its commitment to the sector.

Other winners of the Gastroactitud Commitment to the Land Award were:
Guillermo Moscoso of Pan de Moa in Santiago de Compostela, for his work in re-establishing traditional Galician breadmaking.
Amador Peset of Olivos Milenarios in Valladolid for his dedication in protecting olive tres over 2,000 years old.
Rubén Valbuena of Quesería Cantagrullas in Valladolid for awakening an interest in cheese-making in young producers and cheese lovers and showing at first hand that things can be done another way.
Fernando Alcázar of Huerta Fernando Alcázar in Madrid for giving back its prestige to the market garden of Aranjuez, thanks to his superb strawberries and asparagus among other indigenous plants he has recuperated.
Carlos Manuel Sanllehy of Eth Restilhè in the Valle de Aran, for his determination to conserve traditional farming in the Val d’Aran.
The Association of Fish and Shellfishermen of San José de Cangas in Pontevedra for their efforts and initiatives to protect the Vigo estuary and the Cíes Islands area to maintain the quality of their products (razor clams, barnacles etc.)
Daniel Bartolomé of Picasuelos de Cantabria (Cantabria) for  the recuperation of the picasuelos breed of chicken which is native to the area and bred in freedom.
Supracafé de Clombia (Madrid) for being the only Spanish coffee company with its own coffee farm in Colombia and with an unbeatable project for research, sustainability and social insertion.
Gamba Natural in Valladolid received the special prize for innovation for pioneering the production of prawns inland and maintaining a serious environmental commitment to sustainability and development.
Ricardo Crespo of Carnatura in Valencia for his work in re-claiming the countryside with his project to recuperate indigenous goats from the Sierra de la Calderona which he allows to roam freely and eat what they can find in the mountains, which not only provides excellent meat, but reduces the risk of fires.

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Sherry Wines
International news, events, recipes, culture and history, brought to you by the Sherry Wines Council (El Consejo Regulador Jerez-Xeres-Sherry & Manzanilla ).
Sherry Wines @sherrywines
22 June 2016
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