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Harveys Cellars celebrates the history of Harveys Bristol Cream


Categories: Official press releases

With the excitement of the world famous HarveysCellars to re-open in Bristol, the up-market, contemporary wine, sherry and cocktail lounge celebrates the history of the former home and birthplace of Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry with interesting facts and nostalgia.

Harveys Cellars

Denmark St

Denmark Street was once a few yards away from the dockside in the days when ships used to come up into the centre to unload, which is why the street became central to Bristol's sherry trade.


The original John Harvey and Sons was started by William Perry in Bristol in 1796, and specialised in importing Spanish and Portuguese wines. Around the 1860s -1880s, John Harvey II (son of John Harvey) and his brother Edward Harvey developed the world’s first cream sherry by blending wines from fifty different soleras, including three sherry types: Fino, Amontillado, and Oloroso to which Pedro Ximénez wine was added to give the sweetness and the richness and creaminess that is the hallmark of Harvey's Bristol Cream.

Harveys Bristol Cream is commonly served chilled and often ‘on the rocks’ where the ice cuts the viscosity. A slice of Orange, lemon or lime is sometimes added so that the acidity of citrus cuts back the sweetness.

Harveys history:

  • 1796 - William Perry opened the doors of 12 Denmark Street to trade as a wine merchant. Beneath his premises lay medieval cellars to store the casks of wine he imported from Europe, mainly from Spain.

  • 1822 - A young apprentice joined William Perry’s business, the nephew of his partner Thomas Urch. His name was John Harvey.
  • 1846 - The links between Harveys and the Iberian Peninsula were strengthened as the imports of Spanish and Portuguese wine into Bristol increased. John Harvey moved with his family of eight children from Denmark Street to Clifton. The three eldest sons, John, Edward and Charles, joined their father’s business.
  • 1860’s - In the early 1860s, two of the brothers, John and Edward Harvey, were perfecting a new blend of sherry which would become Harveys Bristol Cream - the most famous and best-selling sherry in the world. However the term ‘cream’ was not due to the inclusion of any dairy ingredients. The popular story is that an aristocratic lady visiting Harveys cellars was invited to taste Bristol Milk (a rich dark sherry popular at the time) and then the new blend. She declared: “If that is Milk, then this is Cream”. The enterprising Harveys named the new blend "cream sherry" accordingly.
  • 1871 - John Harvey, as senior partner, changed the name of the Bristol firm to John Harvey & Sons. His two sons, John and Edward, travelled extensively in Europe, tasting and buying wines.
  • 1882 - ‘Bristol Cream’ was registered as a trade mark.
  • 1895 - John Harveys & Sons was granted a royal warrant as supplier of fine wine to Queen Victoria and has continued to do so until late 2008 when the Royal Warrant was changed to “Sherries Suppliers, Harvey S.A., Jerez”.
  • 1906 - With the next generation of the Harvey family, the company began to move into the 20th century when typewriters were introduced and in 1908 the firm was the first wine merchant to advertise.
  • 1946 - The Harvey business went from strength to strength through the generations. Following the Second World War, bottles were machine-filled and sales went via wholesalers and caterers.
  • 1959 - The increase in business forced Harveys to move from Denmark Street to a purpose built production centre on the outskirts of Bristol. The fifth generation of the family joined the company in 1961 – Jack Harvey’s son John.
  • 1970 - Close links had been formed with Jerez from the early days of the business, but from the 1970s Harveys gradually increased its investment in the area purchasing vineyards and a large modern winery with all blending and bottling taking place in Jerez.
  • 1994 - Harveys Bristol Cream was repackaged into the iconic Bristol blue glass.
  • 1996 - Harveys celebrated its bicentenary with the recreation of the route taken by the ship Jesus Maria y Josef from Cadiz to Bristol in July 1796.

Harveys vineyards are situated in Jerez region of southern Spain where the local winegrowers cultivate a variety of grapes. Master-blender, Beltran Domecq, blends the grapes to create different styles of Harveys Sherries. The sherries are then aged in a traditional solera system which gives them a rich and silky smooth flavour.

With a variety of styles to suit all different moods, occasions and food, there is a Harveys sherry for everyone.

Harveys Bristol Cream

Harveys Bristol Cream is deep golden in colour with fragrant aromas of candied orange, dried fruit and toasted almonds.

Serve chilled, on the rocks, with a slice of orange, lemon or lime.

  • Harveys Fino: Harveys Fino is an award-winning sherry which is refreshingly crisp and dry. Made from fruity Palomino grapes, it is pale straw in colour with alluring almond aromas.

    Harveys Fino is best served well chilled in a wine glass and is the perfect accompaniment to sushi, smoked salmon, spicy prawns, asparagus spears, Serrano Ham, hard cheeses, salted nuts and olives.
  • Harveys Very Old Rare Sherries (VORS Range)
    Of exceptional quality, the Harveys VORS range are fine and rare sherries which have been aged for more than 30 years in soleras founded more than 100 years ago.The supreme complexity and balance of these rare sherries attest to Harveys winemaking and blending skills acquired from over 200 years in the sherry trade.
  • Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS
    Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS has a nut brown colour. The nose is heady with notes of citrus peel and hazelnuts and the wine is dry on the palate, showing layers of crystallised fruit and a nutty aftertaste.

    Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS complements curry, spicy foods, toasted hazelnuts, artichokes, grilled tuna and swordfish steaks.
  • Harveys Palo Cortado VORS
    Harveys Palo Cortado VORS is deep amber in colour with aromas of sandalwood. Summer fruit flavours coalesce with wood, leather and spice to produce a full-bodied, mouth-watering wine. Combining the characteristics of an Amontillado and an Oloroso, Harveys Palo Cortado VORS is an outstanding example of a rare and old style of sherry.

    Harveys Palo Cortado VORS matches well with fish stews, guinea fowl, lamb and blue cheeses.
  • Harveys Rich Old Oloroso VORS
    Harveys Rich Old Oloroso VORS is mahogany in colour with rich flavours of coffee, chocolate, prunes and spice that linger on the palate.

    Harveys Rich Old Oloroso VORS matches well with cured cheeses such as manchego, salt-cured ham, peppered steaks, stews and game.
  • Harveys Pedro Ximénez (PX) VORS
    Harveys Pedro Ximénez (PX) VORS is a rich, lusciously sweet dessert wine made from dried Pedro Ximénez grapes, giving it a delicious concentrated flavour of raisins, liquorice, black treacle and chocolate.

    Serve chilled on its own, drizzle over vanilla ice cream or pair with a delicious chocolate dessert or sticky toffee pudding.

Learn more about the opening of Harveys Cellars in Bristol

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