Visit & Wine Tasting Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz,

Living in Andalucia I enjoy sampling Spanish wines but I’m only a beginner at wine tasting. Adding visits to wineries and sampling their wines while exploring Spain is growing on me. I didn’t realise just how many wineries there are, especially here in the south of Spain. We’ve all heard of Rioja, Ribera, Valdepeñas, those larger, more famous areas in the north (or further north) which tend to overshadow us down here in the south.

Wine from Andalucia
Wine from Andalucia

Usually here in Andalucia it´s the three big cities – Cordoba, Granada and Sevilla or the busy beaches of the Costa del Sol that make the headlines. Well I’m on a mission to share wineries or bodegas throughout Andalucia.

Just last month a blog trip with Tasty Andalucia introduced me to two wineries about as far west from me as possible. They say it’s the climate, the soil and the Atlantic air that makes their wines so special. Whatever the reasons I enjoyed them all.

DO Condado de Huelva Wine Information Centre
DO Condado de Huelva Wine Information Centre

That isn’t the reason for my local winery, Campoameno’s great wines.  No Atlantic air here in Jaen. Climate, soil and grape vines yes! So I’ve had to do many frequent visits for supplies. Which is my favourite? The Syrah.

Winery, Bodegas Campoameno, Frailes, Jaen
Selection of Reds from Bodegas Campoameno

But as this post is about one winery in particular, (even though, while writing, I’m enjoying a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from Bodegas Crin Roja in Castilla La Mancha) let me introduce you to……

Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana Winery, Sanlucar de Barrameda
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

My visit to Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana was on an unusally wet day, but that didn’t dull my view of the lovely, little town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, to which I have to return and explore more.

Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana why two names? There starts the story…

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana Winery, Sanlucar de Barrameda
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana Patio

My tour on that damp, dull November day began as we were ushered in the back way because of the rain. The dampness didn’t dispel those amazing aromas. Fermin, eighth generation, Hidalgo was our marvellous wine tasting story-teller and guide.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana Winery, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana, Fermin Hidalgo

In the office of the winery the story unveils. The bodegas roots began in 1792 when Jose Hidalgo purchased a small wine storage from his father-in-law. Although it was his son, Edward, who made it famous. The winery, named Bodegas Hidalgo, changed its name several times. Today it’s still known as Bodegas Hidalgo but more often than not with the hyphen – La Gitana.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

La Gitana, meaning the Gypsy Woman, was added after Edward travelled to Malaga to meet the woman who was selling a fair quantity of his wine in her shop. Back in those days it was sold directly from casks or barrels. The punter brought their receptacle, a jug, bottle or whatever and it was filled straight from the cask (I remember being able to do that.) The locals started referring to the wine as ‘el vino de la gitana‘, the gypsy lady’s wine.

When in the early 20th century wine began to be sold in bottles Bodegas Hidalgo (or Edward) named it ‘La Gitana’ and had a picture of her (with whom he was having an affair) on the label, Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana. Hence keeping their name but also retaining the custom and customers.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana bottles

The original picture is on the wall in the original office along with a later ‘touch up’ in the 1920s.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana, the Original ‘Gypsy’ Portraits

Historical books and ledgers remain in the old offices and the once small storage built one metre below sea level is now able to hold about 4,000 barrels of Hidalgo’s wine.


Although Manzanilla is its main brand it also produces Pastrana and four fortified wines – Amontillado Napoleon, Oloroso Faraon, Cream Alameda and Pedro Ximenez Triana.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana, Winery in Cadiz
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

One of the fascinating facts for me was that they had wines named Wellington and Napoleon. Why was that? Well, in the Peninsular War in the early 1800s Napeoleon invaded Spain and ever-the-entrepreneur Edward sold his wines to the French putting ‘Napoleon’ on the barrels and when the English came to help, he also sold to Wellington’s troops marking the barrels ‘Wellington’ so now we have old Amontillado Viejo Napoleon VORS* and Palo Cortado Viejo Wellington VORS wines.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana

In the summer months one of the bodegas’ charming little patios is open to the public as a bar with lunch available, as well as a shop for wine in bulk or bottles and guided tours it is an interesting visit as much for its history as its wine tastings.

Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana, Patio
Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana Patio


*VORS = Very Old Rare Sherry** – a wine which has an average age over 30 years
VOS = Very Old Sherry – a wine has an average age of more than 20 years

**Really VOS comes from the Latin ‘Vinum Optimum Signatum’ or a Wine Selected as Optimo or the best.
VORS comes from “Very Old Rare Sherry” (Wine Selected as Optimal and Exceptional)only around 0.2% of wines produced in Jerez make this grade.


Visit the website of Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana. Tours can be booked via the site.

Read my post on my Andalucia Explorer Blog about Olive Oil, Wine and Food Tours around Cadiz, Cordoba, Huelva and Sevilla There’s Part 1 which is live and Part 2 which is in the fermenting process.

Trip Planning – Why You Should Use a Travel Planner


I wanted to go back to Spain. I’d been before, but this time my work schedule got in the way. When the moment of planning came to pick travel dates and evaluate what region to visit and where to stay, my ideas became a tangled nightmare.

White Village, Olvera, Cadiz
White Village, Olvera, Cadiz

As a mother, wife and professional, I couldn’t find the time to research and evaluate what was best for us. When I spoke to a co-worker about my situation, she simply said “Why don’t you get a travel planner?”

“Do I get that in any office supply store?” was my response.

“No, use my personal travel planner” she said “You will get all the help you need  and at a reasonable price.” And that’s what happened.  I was put in contact with a versatile, patient and experienced travel expert. Plans were made and my travel experience was wonderful from the beginning. No travel delays, the hotel reservations were done by her with no hitch, and she gave us the best itinerary with no waiting in queues, in the exclusive tourist spots.

She also advised us on the best restaurants, the best fiestas and live flamenco shows. She was good and being that Spain is a passion of mine, she was on point all of the time. For someone who doesn’t know the country they are about to visit, travel planners are life savers.

Cazalla de la Sierra, Cadiz
Cazalla de la Sierra, Cadiz

My travel planner was an expert, she had lived in Spain for more than 20 years. She  knew the ins and outs of each town and region in her territory and had a cordial relationship with hotel owners.

She knew my language, and also spoke Spanish. With this inside person, who could say no to such a great service? I felt pampered. The service was exclusive, the prices were good, and we all enjoyed every minute of  our stay in Spain.

Now that I have shared my experiences with a travel planner, I will explain why I think it’s a good idea to use a travel planner.

Rio Borosa Walkway, Cazorla, Jaen, Andalusia, Spain
Rio Borosa Walkway, Cazorla, Jaen

Travel Planners for Trip Planning

Travel planners live locally (or should do) and with plenty of contacts are capable of taking the hassle of planning off your shoulders and allowing you carefree travel.

Having a helping hand when you are abroad always gives you the peace of mind and the feeling of safety. The travel planner knows your time is valuable, that is why they listen to your needs, and cater to them.

Travel planners have the time to do more research for you on things you want to see. They are continually educating themselves, and visiting new places in the area to learn about hotels, culture, new activities, natural parks and carnivals etc.

Finca la Fronda, Aracena, Huelva
Finca la Fronda, Aracena, Huelva

The services they provide can be like a concierge service: making reservations, booking accommodation, transportation, and costume collection.

Another added bonus is that a travel planner gives you access to their website and blogs, where you can read information about your destination. These blogs are very informative and can include pictures or video of the travel planners’ experiences.

La Herradura, Granada Coast
La Herradura, Granada Coast

What is Trip Planning

To plan your own trip there are lots of decisions to be made:

  • which destination best fits your budget
  • what to do
  • where to stay
  • where to eat
  • best time to travel
  • how to get the most value
  • how to optimize your travel time
  • places or museums to visit
  • transportation/car rental

A travel planner will do all this for you or with you so that all you have to worry about is getting on the plane, and everything else is organised for you.

The Alhambra Palace, Granada
The Alhambra Palace, Granada

One thing that is obvious is that travel planners charge a fee depending on their services and you pick the one that is convenient to you. Then there are other travel planners who do not charge you a fee because the airlines, hotels and restaurants are the ones paying them.

So the next time you want to take a trip, consider a travel planner. 


This post was written by Carolyn PachasCarolyn is a professional communicator and digital marketer who loves to travel.

If you are looking for a Travel Planning Service for Spain then check out my sister site Only Spain Boutique Hotels – Trip Planning.

Boutique Hotel Plaza No. 18, Vejer de la Frontera

One of the Andalusia’s White Towns, as well as one of Spain’s Most Beautiful Towns, Vejer de la Frontera,  often just referred to as Vejer, is the site for an exciting new Boutique Hotel. You know how much  I love Boutique Hotels from my Only Spain Boutique Hotels portfolio.

Due to open for Easter 2019,  Plaza No. 18 is a new six-bedroom luxury hotel set in a beautifully restored 19th Century merchant’s house. In collaboration with hotel La Casa del Califa, Vejer’s main hotel and designed by Nicky Dobree the award-winning  interior architect and designer.

The project will have turned one of Vejer’s landmark properties into one of the finest hotels in the boutique genre in Andalucía. Located in the heart of  the medieval quarter and next to Vejer’s  palm-filled and ceramic, froggy-fountained Plaza de España.

Plaza de Espana, Vejer de la Frontera

Boutique Hotel Plaza No. 18

Nicky Dobree says of the new hotel “There will be comfort and elegance through every door, a place to feel at home. A place to re-connect and re-discover.”

Dating from 1896 and standing on the foundations of an ancient 13th  century Moorish  house the renovations have used entirely organic building materials, including traditional lime-based mortars, wooden floors with natural stone and marble.

It has a shady central courtyard, typical of Andalusia, where guests can relax in the heat of summer. Or the large, comfortable sitting room with a huge fireplace in less clement days. There’s also a large roof terrace with fabulous views.

All bedrooms, one of them a suite, has views of the town or the Parque Natural las Marismas nature reserve.

Plaza No. 18 will share its reception with Hotel La Casa del Califa and also its facilities will be on offer to Plaza No. 18 guests. Amongst which is the Michelin recommended restaurant El Jardín del Califa with its palm-filled courtyard and stone-vaulted dining rooms.

In 2019 the Califa Group will  be opening a Hammam Baths in Vejer. A Moorish bathhouse or Arab Baths, a tradition which has been lost in many towns and cities around Andalusia and one that is a must when visiting Spain. Read my posts on the Hammam in Granada and in Malaga.

The Califa Hamam will be a blend of the traditional Roman and Moorish baths with cold, warm and hot baths as well as a steam room, domed atrium and a massage room.

Califa Hamam Baths, Vejer de la Frontera

Vejer de la Frontera is a popular and one of the best preserved  ‘Pueblos Blancos’  –  a route of White Villages or White Towns.  It’s a historical town with turreted walls, flower-filled courtyards and ancient buildings. It has over the recent years developed a good reputation for its gastronomy. Now it has a large choice of excellent restaurants, cafés and tapas bars where you can pass the time, relax, watch the world go by and eat.

Vejer, in the province of Cadiz,  is 10 kms inland from the Atlantic coast and beaches of El Palmar and Cape Trafalgar. Its only 54 km from Jerez airport, a great, small airport more like a large cafe! Or 95 km from Gibraltar airport, 158 km from Seville airport or if you like driving, which is not at all stressful here in Andalusia, 210 km from Malaga airport.

See my sister site Only Spain Boutique Hotels, a site full of gorgeous personally-visited boutique hotels, as such Plaza No. 18 isn’t on it, yet!

Campos de Ibiza – Luxury Spanish Cosmetics & Perfumes

The birth of Campos de Ibiza is a story as touching and charming as their growth and their products. From a child making fragrances from flower petals from her garden Campos de Ibiza has now become one of Spain’s best known brands. So how does the story go?

Campos de Ibiza

The story starts in World War II when a young French soldier was captured by General De Gaulle’s troops and imprisioned in Spain. His translator was Baroness Ilaria of Romania who promised she’d take the young soldier to her island if they survived.  Survive they did and the  Baroness took him to Ibiza in the 1950s, where he began a lifelong love and passion for the island frequently taking his family with him.

Campos de Ibiza

His daughter Camilla visited throughout her childhood  and she began making her own brand of scents from the fruit and flowers from their garden in the 1970s.

Campos de Ibiza

Today Camilla’s daughter Aurelie runs the business and has given it a more international touch. They produce over 60 luxury products from perfumes and fig soap to gift box selections and beach bags to mini travel sets. As well as almond scented candles and towels.

Campos de Ibiza soap

All come beautifully packaged and presented from small size to large. Hotels and weddings are catered for too. Visit Campos de Ibiza to see the full range of delightful gifts and products.

Hire Your Golf Clubs in Spain, Don’t Take Them There

Why pay to carry your own clubs, wait to load and collect them as oversized luggage when you can hire golf clubs at various airports in Spain as well as many other locations.

Clubs to Hire offers the latest clubs on the market, both for male and female, right handed and left-handed players. Their range is from leading golf club brands such as Taylor Made and Callaway,  hire starts from just €35 per week. You get a saving on luggage with none of the hassle and no chance of damage to your own clubs.

Alicante golf

It was founded by Irish entrepreneurs Tony Judge and Gerry McKernan in 2010 which its first branch at Faro airport in Portugal. Now Clubs to Hire work at the following Spanish airports:

Costa Dorada
Gran Canaria
Malaga Murcia
Palma (Mallorca)
Bahia de Cádiz


Clubs for Hire are also in Portugal: Faro, Lisbon and Madeira, Cyprus: Paphos, Morocco: Marrakesh and Agadir, South Africa: Cape Town, Thailand: Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. Turkey: Belek, the UK & Ireland: Dublin and Edinburgh, the United States: Orlando, Florida, and Scottsdale, Arizona, Australia: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane .

For more information see  Clubs to Hire.


See my other golf related posts on Luxury Spain Travel

Luxury Barcelona – Wine, Culture, Gastronomy, Golf or Beach Tailor-Made Tours

Spanish Golf Courses Designed by Seve Ballesteros

Boutique B&B in Spain – Mountains, Live Piano and Poetry on Your Pillow

In the north west of Andalusia, Spain near the Portuguese border lies a mountain range hiding a quintessential English boutique B&B…

… And the story goes on ….

When the great, great grandson of William Wordsworth, Charles, was sent by a petro-chemical company to work in Madrid over half a century ago, never would he have thought his retirement would be spent serving breakfast in his own hotel in a Spanish Natural Park often to the accompaniment of his Spanish son-in-law playing and singing popular Spanish and English songs.

Finca la Fronda

My husband and I had the pleasure of discovering this touch of pure England in really rural Spain. Turning off the twisting, tree-lined mountain road the short, almost rough track leads to the delightful, single-storey, terracotta-coloured Finca la Fronda.

Finca la Fronda, Aracena, Huelva

One of Charles’ bilingual children, Alec, who is also the chef, greeted us and showed us around the beautiful Casa Rural Superior, a Spanish term for an upper class B&B. We were on a visit with a view to add Finca la Frona to our personally visited portfolio – Only Spain Boutique Hotels.

Our enormous bedroom, the largest for wheelchair access,  was beautifully and classically decorated with our own little terrace, as do all rooms, surrounded by trees and lovely views.

Finca la Fronda, B&B, Aracena, Huelva

The finca, a Spanish term for rural property, is in the vast Natural Park Sierra de Aracena & Picos de Aroche, on the border of Portugal to the west and the province of Cadiz to the south.

English tea is served in a teapot with cups and saucers, only fitting when sitting  with a portrait of the nature-loving William Wordsworth on the lounge wall and another charming family touch is the verse of Wordsworth’s poetry left on your bed each night.

Finca la Fronda

There’s lots to explore and do in the area if you like walking, running or mountain biking this is a great spot with paths, tracks and trails linking all around the mountains. If relaxing by the pool is your thing, exploring charming towns and stunning scenery or helping yourself to tea or coffee and drinks from the honesty bar and dining while watching the stars light up the black evening sky in this starlight reserve, with oodles of charm, class and culture here, throw in its history, poetry and nature and you’ve a fabulous winning combination.

Finca la Fronda

See Finca la Fronda on Only Spain Boutique Hotels.

Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel on the Canary Island of La Palma

Forgetting the party side of La Palma, this beautiful Canary Island is an ideal place for slow-travel and back-to-nature holidays well away from mass tourism and the hoards. It’s easy to be an ecotourist and follow the sustainable travel code on La Palma, see just a few of its offerings.

Stargazing in UNESCO Starlight Reserve of La Palma

La Palma has an abundance of stargazing  destinations for the casual stargazer or for Astronomy fanatics.

La Palma Starlight Reserve

Llanos del Jable is just one of La Palma’s mesmerizing stargazing locations in the town of El Paso, which is 1,200 metres above sea level. Both day and night it’s worth the asent. During the day there are amazing views over the Aridane valley and the ancient volcano and at night it’s a perfect stargazing spot being one of the UNESCO Starlight Reserves.

Walking and Hiking in UNESCO La Palma

La Palma is well known for its impressive natural landscapes, the whole island became a Biosphere Reserve in 1983, with 706 square kilometres of stunning scenery and over 1,000 kilometres of marked trails, which means it’s ideal for walking and hiking.

Hiking in La Palma

One of this Canary Island’s most impressive natural attractions is the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, a volcanic  8-kilometre diameter crater surrounded by orange coloured waterfalls and springs scattered through the crater, as well as pine forests and indigenous species.

Slowtravel and Slowfood on La Palma

La Palma is a gastronomic hub with many restaurants serving traditional dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, slowfood,  including fresh fish such as moray eels or parrot fish, papas arrugadas (delicious wrinkled potatoes) with the local mojo rojo or verde (green or red local salsa), as well as hearty meat dishes.

La Palma Mercado

Great restaurants to try include La Recova in the capital. The fabulous food market Santa Cruz de La Palma sells local specialities such as cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables and the island’s wines. The farmers’ markets in Villa de Mazo, Puntagorda, Puntallana and El Paso are a must for the slowfood foodie too showcasing local seasonal produce and delicious local pastries.