Miguel A Torres joined the family business in 1962 and went on to win many accolades and honors for his contribution to the industry and trade relations over the years. As the fourth generation of the internationally acclaimed wine business, he set many new benchmarks in wine-making. Torres was recognized as the most admired wine brand for the sixth consecutive time. Torres, who believes that ‘the best thing you can do is to retire’ and actively pursues his interests now having passed on the main reins to the next generation, loves to write books. He has published various books about the world of wine. His first book, Viñas y Vinos, (Vineyards and Wines) is in Spanish, has been translated into Catalan, French, English, German, Norwegian, Finnish and Japanese. He may be on to his next.
To what factors do you attribute the many international accolades that Torres wines have been consistently receiving?
We start at the earth: selecting and buying land, studying every micro-climate and deciding which wines we could produce that would best express the terroir. But I also think that it is really the result of the extraordinary work and effort of all our family and team members. If I look back at these past 30 years I am really proud to see that everyone has a sense of ownership and is always looking for excellence.Also, great friends like the PFV Primum Familiae Vini, who are also a wine family like us, have helped us with guidance and advice over the years; so did many trade specialists, including journalists, masters of wine and sommeliers, who tasted our wines and gave us honest criticism on every vintage. I have to also mention the many loyal wine lovers whom we have met personally during our travels to many countries in the world or at our bodega near Barcelona.
How do you see the future of the company, especially with the next generation of Torres family being at the helm now?
I look at the future at three different levels – at the company level, at the country/sector level and at the environmental level. First, as the father and president of our family owned company, I can confidently say that we the 4th generation have successfully passed on the winery to the next generation. Today the 5th generation includes my son Miguel (General Manager), my daughter Mireia (Director R&D, Innovation and Knowledge, manager of Jean Leon and president of the Miguel Torres Foundation), Arnau Torres Rosselló and Cristina Torres. Two other 5th generation family members – Anna
Torres Maczassek and Marta Torres Rosselló – are members of the Board of Directors. They are all doing a really great job and as president of the company I help them where I can. At the sector level, I see a positive future ahead.Today Spain has a huge advantage which we did not always have in the past. Spain is considered among the most interesting winegrowing areas in the world with the perfect combination of top cuisine and top wines. But at the environmental level, I am very worried about climate change. It is a serious problem worldwide,as vines are very sensitive to temperature changes. If temperature rise 2-3 degrees celsius by 2100, as many scientists forecast, the world and viticulture would be heading for big problems and changes. So I think that some proactive action is needed at the individual, company, sector and country levels. We really need to broaden the discussion towards a wider, a more all-embracing ecological-sustainable approach
You are very conscious about the effects of climate change and leading a campaign about it. What impact would climate change have on wine business?
I am very worried about one “specific future” that has to do with climate change. It is a very serious worldwide problem already now as vines are very sensitive to temperature changes, but it will be even worse if we don’t take action. If temperature would rise 2-3 degrees Celsius by 2100 as many scientists forecast, the world and viticulture would be heading for big problems and changes. It could actually well mean that the map of vine growing regions could change dramatically. I think that much more action is needed on individual, company, sector and country level. Within the EU the objective for 2030 is a C02 reduction of 30%, but experts already advert that it should actually be more than 50%. So climate change is really the greatest threat for the wine business in general, and for wine growers in particular. That is one of the reasons why we have our own environmental program called Torres & Earth (www.torresearth.com) aiming to reduce CO2 emissions per bottle by 30% by 2020 compared to 2008. Between 2008 and 2017 we have reduced our continues to literary bear fruit as in 2017 we carried out our first harvest of Moneu, the ancient Penedès native variety which we found in 1998. We haven’t yet commercialized as wine, but the results are very promising. Bringing back ancestral varieties is in a way an exercise in ‘viticultural archaeology’ and is about recovering our heritage. Another ancient grape with a very interesting winemaking potential is the white variety Forcada, which we now harvested for the third time in our Fransola estate in the higher Penedès. It has adapted very well to the soils and climate of this estate and we will release a very limited edition in the second half of 2018 or beginning of 2019, made especially for the top gastronomy and specialty shops.
Torres is one of the few companies that have always been very optimistic about the Indian market, despite not clocking big volumes. Can spell your reasons for this optimism?
I have always considered India a very important market with incredible potential for the future. I am optimistic because I see a fast growing middle class with a genuine interest for wine, although I also have the impression that there is a status related component too. But in general we are very happy with the developments and our partners Prestige Wines & Spirits are doing a great job. But just like growing wine, you need time and patience and we hope that sooner or later, most of the market barriers ike high import taxes will disappear and quality wines will become accessible to more people. It would be good because it will bring more competition and thus an ‘equal level playing field’ for everyone, not only for the foreign wine producers, but also for the local Indian wine producers. This sounds like a paradox, but we have seen similar developments in others markets, where reducing duty tax had a positive impact both on quality and volume of local wines. In the meantime, we will work hard to further introduce our Mediterranean tradition of having a bottle of wine on every table, be it at home or at a restaurant. The great thing is that every time I visit your country, I see impressive changes. It is also heartening to see this new generation of experimental wine consumers, whose knowledge is growing every day.
Just before you passed on company’s reigns to you son, you were quoted as saying, ‘The best thing you can do is to retire.’ Are you really enjoying your retirement?
As mentioned before, the executive management is now in the hands of my son Miguel and my daughter Mireia, and as a president I help with advice where I can. The only area where I am still involved is climate change and o rTorres & Earth program, along with internal auditing and the legal office. As for the rest, I still travel to represent the family in different countries in the world. The things is, we are working in the premium and super premium segments of the wine and brandy markets, where our clients like to see and talk to the owners of the winery. But I do have more free time now so I can do more things with the grandchildren and I also learn languages and guitar.
You have achieved much in life, but is there still something you wish to accomplish?
Maybe write another book. I love to write and many years ago when I wrote several books (related to wine), I had a great time.