The bodega lies just 800m from the ocean, separated only by pine trees, so while it certainly has oceanic influence, it also benefits from the Levante wind (a warmer current that flows west through the Strait of Gibraltar) and less from the Poniente wind, which is cool and humid. Chiclana is naturally blessed with more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, with naturally high humidity, which fosters the growth of flor for the production of biologically aged wines.
The secret to quality that sets Manuel Aragón apart from most of the wineries in the Sherry region begins with the unique fact that they own 9ha of their own vineyards, which viticulturist Juan Manuel Tocino farms organically. Utilizing a traditional method to fertilize their vineyards, they recycle the pomace produced from winemaking back into the soil after the grapes have been pressed. Manuel Aragón has vineyards located in the Pagos Campano, Cañadillas and Marquesado. In contrast to the prevailing system in Jerez, with intermediary winemakers farming grapes and fermenting base wines (called mosto) in processing bodegas and then selling their mosto to the more well-known aging bodegas for aging, labeling, and sales, Manuel Aragón controls the entire process by making their own base wine before aging in their solera. Owning vineyards and producing mosto is very rare in the region. Most bodegas who age and bottle Sherry for export do not farm their own vines nor make their own base wines, and for those that do, organic farming in the region is even rarer.
Vineyards are planted in chalky albariza barajuela soils in the same direction as the Levante wind, reaching up to 80 miles an hour. The most important characteristics of albariza barajuela soil are its high moisture retention capacity which stores the limited rain that falls in winter, nourishing the vines in the dry summer months. Due to the striking white color of the chalky soil, it reflects much of the solar radiation received. During rainy periods, the albariza opens like a sponge, absorbing large amounts of water. Later, during the hot season, the surface layers of the soil are compacted, discouraging evaporation and feeding the vines the vital water they need to produce fruit.
The village of Chiclana, including the Manuel Aragón winery, has always been located within the boundaries of the production zone for grapes destined to make the young base wines to be aged in Sherry bodegas. However, until the laws were finally changed in August of 2021, production of D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry wine was restricted to bodegas that aged their wines within the limits of the so-called Sherry Triangle, i.e., the three cities of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. In 2021, Manuel Aragón was at last permitted to label their exquisite, handcrafted wines with the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry label. In fact, the quality of the bodega has been so high that the Sherry negociant firm Equipo Navazos has routinely selected top barrels from Manuel Aragón to bottle under their label,including two of their most revered releases: La Bota de Palo Cortado 62 and Oloroso 98.
As much emphasis as they place on their work in the vineyards, they are equally vigilant in the cellar, utilizing only time-honored artisan methods in the production and aging of their Sherries. Chano Aragón and his small team of ten workers (four employees in the vineyards and six in the bodega) set out to make Sherry with “the same authenticity as their grandparents.” During harvest, grapes are hand-picked in small baskets with great care to avoid oxidation and then fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel at a low temperature.