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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for August 3, 2000


When Harveys Went Kablooey


1972 label Nov. 24, 1940—The original headquarters of the firm that produces the world's most significant sherry, Harveys Bristol Cream, is destroyed by German bombs. Let's see what happened before and after the bombs fell.

Bristol Cream Milestones

c.1OOO B.C. Phoenicians found the town of Xera, known today as Jerez (hair-eth), south of Seville in Spain.

409 A.D.—Romans withdraw from Jerez, which earlier was a Greek settlement.

1264 A.D.—The Muslim Moors are driven from Jerez by the Christians, and winemaking is re-established, In fact, the full name of the town had become Jerez de la Frontera, since it was located on the frontier between the warring Moors and Christians.

Meanwhile, the former Roman trading port of Bristol had started importing wine to England.

1643— Sherry has been introduced to England, and the town's blenders develop a popular style known as Bristol Milk.

1815—Capt. Thomas Harvey regularly brings cargoes of sherry from Jerez to Bristol. Soon, his son John marries into the family of a Bristol sherry merchant whose company later will become John Harvey and Sons.

Bordeaux Merchant painting 1882—The scene is the original Bristol building that later would be destroyed by German bombs. Edward Harvey is now in charge and serves the aristocratic wife of a Bordeaux merchant two sherries (see painting). One is the famous Bristol Milk and one is a special house blend. She remarks, "If that it Bristol Milk, then this [blend] must be the CREAM." Edward knew a good name when he heard it!

1971—Uncle Sam becomes a fan. Bristol Cream sales in the U.S.A. have tripled in 10 years. I liked it so well that I served it in my wine classes the next year, 1972, in TEHRAN! (see label from those lessons) In fact, it's been in my classes for over 30 years; I consider it the most important dessert sherry of the 20th century.

Wine of the Day

Harveys Bristol Cream
Service—Serve it after dinner with assorted nuts, creamy cheeses, and water crackers. You might include a toast to the French lady who named it, too.
Contact—George Rose, Allied Domecq, (707)433-8268, FAX (707)433-3538
Stature—I like the Wall Street Journal's advice, "Don't say you don't like dessert wines until you try the really great ones."
Price—You can take home this historic wine for only $14.


What was the vessel Mayflower doing before it was carrying Pilgrims from England to Plymouth? It was carrying sherry from Spain to England!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


This page created August 2000