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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Spain’s Food & Wine Fairs: A Perpetual Feast

Palacio de Congresos in Valencia, Scene of Vino Elite

Tetsuya Wakuda at Madrid Fusión

Ferran Ádria at Alimentaria's BCN Vanguardia

Spain’s Food & Wine Fairs: A Perpetual Feast

by Gerry Dawes

All photographs copyright 2008 by Gerry Dawes (Not to be used without permission

Spanish food and wine fairs, wine trade fairs, promotional events and gastronomic conferences can keep dedicated Spanish wine professionals, foodies and aficionados alike busy all year round, as I found out over the course of 2007, when I made a half dozen ten trips to Spain, many of them connected two and three deep to Spanish wine events. Spain now has thousands of wineries and it takes a lot of tastings to bring all that wine to the attention of the press, importers and consumers.

Read more. . . . .

Three-star Michelin Chefs Santi Santamaria, Ferran Ádria, Paul Bocuse and Juan Mari Arzak
at the Salón Internacional de Gourmets in Madrid

Vinoble: Tasting in the former Mezquita of the Alcazar in Jerez de la Frontera

Wine News Oct/Nov 2007 Mencía - Terroir & Balance

The unheralded existence of terroir-driven native varietals flourishing in northwestern Spain is comparable to the iceman encased in the glacier: By shining a critical spotlight on Bierzo, at the gates of Galicia in León province, and Ribeira Sacra, in Galicia's Ourense and Lugo provinces - much like sunlight melting back a glacier - the native mencía grape emerges from obscurity. Grown in precariously steep vineyards and often clinging to treacherous slate-strewn hillsides and Roman-style terraces, the indigenous variety is responsible for some of Spain's most intriguing and delicious terroir-laced reds. Read More


Gerry Dawes: Biography & Credits


". . . Gerry Dawes, the gastronomy/travel writer known for good reasons in wine and periodical circles as ‘Mr. Spain." An inexhaustible fund of knowledge on his favorite subject, Dawes, who has joined our masthead as Contributing Authority on Spain, composed this month's apt tribute to Arzak and Adríà on page 112 and has arranged for them to be guests of honor at the James Beard Foundation's November auction dinner in New York City, of which he is chair." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Publishers of Food Arts

Gerry Dawes was born in Alto Pass, Illinois (pop. 398) and lived in Spain for eight years in the sherry country of Cádiz province, in Sevilla, and in Mijas (Málaga). He sold paintings for the late American artist-matador John Fulton in Sevilla and Marbella; apprenticed under Robert Vavra, photographer of James Michener's Iberia; worked as a movie extra in Barcelona on The Great White Hope; ran The Dawes Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Mijas, and studied Spain's language, history, and culture at the University of Sevilla (in the former Fábrica de Tabaco--made famous as the setting of the opera Carmen). Dawes has a B.A. in Spanish and Creative Writing from State University of New York (SUNY).

Dawes has been cited for his knowledge of Spain in The New York Times and New York Times Magazine, New York Newsday, The Wine Spectator, The James Beard Foundation Newsletter, Food Arts, Men's Journal, The Rosengarten Report and Spain's Deia, El País, Cambio 16, and many other publications.

— Premio Nacional de Gastronomía 2003 (Spanish National Gastronomy Prize): 2003 Marques de Busianos Award from the Academia Española de Gastronomía (Spanish Academy of Gastronomy) & La Cofradia de la Buena Mesa for writing, photography, and lectures about Spanish gastronomy and wines.

— James Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards Judge (1998 - present)

— Amigo de Madrid (Presented by the Mayor of Madrid.)

— Chairman, 17th Annual James Beard Foundation Auction Dinner, Essex House Hotel, New York, Nov. 16, 2003 The Flavors of Spain Honoring Juan Mari Arzak & Ferran Adriá (Broke all existing records by $100,000.)

— Judge, GourmetQuesos Championship Finals, Salón de Gourmets, Madrid, Spain (April, 2004)

— Honoree, Premio Cena de los 11 Vinos, Madrid & Barcelona (Two annual wine dinners in Spain honoring someone distinguished in enhancing the image of Spanish wines.)

— Irmandinho (member), Irmandade de Vinhos Galegos (Brotherhood of Galician Wines)


An avid aficionado of Spanish fiestas and a photographer, Dawes traveled extensively in Spain during the eight years he lived there, putting muchos kilómetros on Rocinante, his Volkswagen sedan. He amassed thousands of color transparencies and a wealth of knowledge about the country, its wine and food, customs and culture. He has published hundreds of wine, food and travel photographs in numerous magazines and has had cover photographs for The Wine Spectator, The Wine News, Wine Enthusiast and others.

Gastronomic & Wine Tours of Spain

Gerry Dawes has led numerous culinary and wine tours to Spain. His clients have included The World Trade Center Club, Club Managers of America Wine Society, Chef Mark Miller and his management team, the mythical 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron and the Commonwealth Club of California.

"I have taken eight trips to Spain, but the best trip was the one Gerry Dawes orchestrated. His love and knowledge of the foods and wines of Spain are intoxicating. His ever present enthusiasm made my Spanish experiences with him memorable." – Mark Miller, author and chef/owner, Coyote Cafe (Santa Fe, New Mexico), winner of the James Beard Foundation's Southwestern Chef of the Year Award.


The Wine News, Food Arts, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Restauradores (Madrid), Santé, Cocina Futuro (Madrid), Berlitz Travellers Guide to Spain, Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

Articles & Photographs Published In

The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, The Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, James Beard Foundation Magazine, Fine Wine Folio, Playboy (America's Best Restaurants; America's Best Bars), Spain Gourmetour (Madrid), La Prensa del Rioja, El Diario de La Rioja, Sobremesa (Madrid & Latin America), Restauradores (Madrid).

Public Speaking Engagements

Gerry Dawes has been a featured speaker on Spain, Spanish wines, gastronomy, culture and travel at:

— The Smithsonian Institution
— Macy's De Gustibus
— Executive Wine Seminars
— Tasters Guild International
— International Wine Center
— Boston Wine Expo
— Centro Riojano (Madrid)
— Culinary Institute of America-Greystone (Napa Valley)
— Madrid Fusi

Speaking Engagements and Conference Presentations

Far too numerous to list here, list available on request for events in both the U.S. & Spain.

Television & Radio

EO Agency's 7 Days, 7 Nights: A Video Culinary, Wine & Travel Adventure in Valencia-Alicante with Gerry Dawes & Guest Chef Terrance Brennan

— Food Network, as an expert on Spanish food and wine. Dawes's color photographs also used as background for Food Network segments on the Basque Country and on Sherry. (Video clips available.)

— "A Matter of Taste," 2003 JBF Award winning program of David Michael & Rachel Kane, San Francisco. (July, 2004)

— CNN, interviewed by Carolyn O'Neill on Spanish Cuisine.

— Has appeared in numerous interviews on television and radio in Spain.

— CBS-TV 'Sixty Minutes' - Associate Producer for a segment on Spain.


"Gerry Dawes--has emerged as the leading American speaker, consultant, and writer on the subject of Spanish wine. . . suffice to say that everyone from The New York Times to the James Beard Foundation, from 60 Minutes to CNN, has sought Gerry's wisdom on the subject of Spanish wine, food and culture." - -David Rosengarten, The Rosengarten Report (August, 2004)

"I am sure you are happy about the article (Arthur Lubow's A Laboratory of Taste, The New York Times Magazine, August 10, 2003), since you have been talking about it (Spain's culinary ascendancy) for the past ten years." - - From an 8/13/03 e-mail from Ferran Adriá, Chef-partner, El Bulli.

"Gerry Dawes's knowledge of Spanish wines is encyclopedic. . .", John Mariani, author, food and travel columnist for Esquire, restaurant columnist for Wine Spectator, and food columnist for Diversion. (, 2003)
"Gerry Dawes . . . is probably America's premier expert on Spanish wines." – Frank J. Prial, The NewYork Times

"When it comes to the wines of Spain, Gerry Dawes is as passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable as they come. Every time we hear him speak about Spain, we long to travel there ourselves, to get to know the wines better." - - Mary Mulligan, Master of Wine and Author of Wine for Dummies, New York.

"Dawes is uniquely qualified to comment on the wines of Spain, having lived there for eight years in the late '60s and early '70s and since returned frequently to keep abreast of new developments. While his consulting career has been built on his knowledge of French and American wines, his passion has always been for Spain and its wines . . . Dawes is one of the most painstaking tasters we know." – Stephen D. Tanzer, The New York Wine Cellar.


Articles on Spanish Gastronomy, Wine & Travel by Gerry Dawes

Spain’s Ferias del Vino - Spanish Wine Fairs

Madrid Fusión 2007: A Watershed Moment in Spanish Modern Cuisine History

Encuentro Verema: Valencia's Winter Wine Conference, January 26 & 27, 2007

Galicia’s Green Gold: White Wines from Native Spanish Grapes

Valencia: Damned Near Everything You Need to Know About the Incredible Food, Wine & Cultural Scene in Valencia & Alicante

Rice to Riches, Food Arts, May 2007 (The Surprising Cuisines of Valencia & Alicante)

The Cuisines of La Comunitat Valenciana (Valencia, Alicante & Castellón)

Alicante: Monastrell Restaurant & La Taberna del Gourmet

The Emerging Wines of Valencia: Hitting Their Stride

The Wines of Murcia: Jumilla, Land of Monastrell

Cava: Spain's Champagne Method Bubbly is Perfect for the Holidays

Vinoble: "Noble" Dessert & Fortified Wines Fair in Jerez de la Frontera, the Sherry Capital

La Rioja: Roda & Contino Mano a Mano

Spanish Artisan Cheeses & Spanish Wines That Complement Them

Con-queso-dores: A Ham & Cheese Adventure in the Conquistador Villages of Western Spain, Castilla y León & The Mountains of Asturias

Con-queso-dores: A Ham & Cheese Journey in the Columbine and Conquistador Villages of Western Spain; the highlands of Castilla y León & The Mountains of Asturias


Sanlúcar Sunset in a Manzanilla Glass

And suspended from the rafters, along with a blowfish, are amphoras, the pottery urns, which were used in the days when Spain was a part of the Roman Empire to ship. . . .

Cervecerías: Spain's Beer Bars

If you ask the average Spaniard (and most foreigners, for that matter) for a definition of a cervecería, one of Spain’s ubiquitous so-called beer bars, you will get all kinds of answers, almost none of them right.

Alta Expresión Vino -Black gold or fool's gold?During the past decade, scores of powerful, highly concentrated, new-wave wines have cropped up all over Spain like the saffron crocuses that proliferate in La Mancha every October. These intensely extracted, international style wines encompass a bewildering array of newly minted brands that vary widely in quality and seriousness. Lumped together under the controversial term vinos de alta expresión ("high expression," or "high concept" wines--read high extract and some say "alta extorsión," for the outrageous prices some command), these potent wines depart sharply from the traditional, mellow, age-worthy style for which La Rioja, the country's premier wine region, is famous. Winning high praise in some circles and vociferous criticism in others, alta expresión wines have pushed Spain smack into the center of the brewing international debate between winemaking traditionalists and advocates of the high-octane New World approach.

Spain's Vaunted 2001 VintageFirst appeared in The Wine News, April/May 2002.For fans of Spanish wines, and particularly those crafted from tempranillo - Spain's finest indigenous red wine grape - the 2001 harvest may have produced one of the greatest vintages of all time - an ironic conclusion to a rollercoaster growing season afflicted by hard frost, inordinate heat, prolonged drought and potentially damaging rains.On back-to-back visits in September and October, I spent more than six weeks prowling the vineyards of Spain's key red wine-producing regions - from the firmly established La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Penedès and Priorato to up-and-coming spots such as Toro and La Mancha. A veteran of more than a dozen Spanish harvests, I have rarely seen grapes in such healthy condition or a harvest season (vendimia) that enjoyed such propitious weather.

Rioja: The Mountain Cat Springs to Life

Because La Rioja is so large and produces so much wine, this old lion may appear to move slowly, but like the mountain cat that it is, once this time-honored region springs to life, it will be hard to hold back. In fact, La Rioja is in a dynamic state of evolution, and many of its classic bodegas are already producing some of the best, modern-style wines in Spain.

Photo Gallery: Spanish Food A collection of food photographs from around Spain.

Chocolateria San Gines

Churros, C. San Gines Gerry Dawes copyright 2004...Churros con chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés

The Estate Wines of Jean León

Summary: Miguel Torres Maczassek, Managing Director of Jean León and son of Miguel Torres Riera, Bodegas Miguel Torres, long one of Spain's most important wineries.

Spanish Rosados*

Saveur can talk about Hemingway downing them in one gulp, but he actually carried Las Campanas rosados around Spain with him in a cooling bag during the Dangerous Summer. . .

The New Wines of The Ancient Kingdom of Navarra

Navarra, the landlocked northern Spanish province that shares a wild stretch of the western Pyrenees with neighboring France, is one of the most rewarding places in Spain for wine aficionados in search of good up-and-coming wines, exceptional regional cuisine and off-the-beaten-track travel experiences. Given the advances of the past few years, Navarra promises to be Spain's next great wine discovery and is set to become a major producer of top-quality wines from across a spectrum that includes world-class whites, exceptional rosés, native and foreign varietal reds and surprising dessert wines.

Food in Navarra: Navarra's Country Cuisine

Navarra's country cuisine, talented chefs and lively restaurants are among the best in Spain. They have at their disposal a vast cornucopia of ingredients to draw from: garden-fresh produce such as artichokes, asparagus, beans and red piquillo peppers from the Ribera of southern Navarra; quail, partridge and rabbit from the mountains; trout from the cold, clear mountain streams; fish and shellfish from the nearby Atlantic; excellent artisan cheeses from Roncal in the Pyrenees; and lamb from all across the province.

Tasting & Touring in Navarra

Bodegas Julián ChiviteThe 1994 vintage – combined with the coming of age of the Chivite family's spectacular 150-hectare Arínzano Estate Vineyard (planted to tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay near the historic town of Estella) and the maturation of Fernando Chivite's winemaking skills – will firmly place Chivite among the ranks of Spain's greatest wineries.

Rias Baixas Wines

Spain: Looking Back To The Future

Three-star restaurants, cultish boutique wines and appreciative, affluent consumers: europe’s gastronomic epicenter just may be shifting to España.When I first began traveling the wine roads of Spain in the early 1970s, the state of Spanish wine and food was dramatically different than it is today...

About the Author

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Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine.

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Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television
series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

(Click on arrow to play video

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Culinary Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at Alternate e-mails (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): or

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