VILAFRANCA DEL PENEDÈS, SPAIN, APRIL 2010. “The more we care for the earth, the better our wines…” With those simple words, Miguel A. Torres, the fourth-generation owner of Miguel Torres S.A., one of the largest and most reputed Spanish wine makers and distributors in the world, summarized his concern for climate change.
The man was on a mission. With just two years to go before stepping down from the direction of the enterprise, he had his hands full. Not only did he want to ensure that he would leave his ancestors’ distinguished house in capable hands but also that the values the firm espoused would flourish.
The legacies had to go beyond family and values though: Miguel Torres wanted to convince his family, employees and the rest of the wine industry that climate change was already impacting the business. Environmental responsibility had to become part of the Torres family legacies. And that was still not obvious to most.
When he chose global warming as the topic of his keynote address to Rioja wine producers in 2009, the reception was lukewarm. Winemaking peers questioned his priorities. After all, there was a global crisis going on and wine sales were down more than 10%. Why worry about long-term climate issues when there were more urgent short-term challenges to tackle? Was climate change even real?
But Miguel Torres had a long-term perspective: “In the wine business one needs to think 15 years ahead. Forget weather statistics: facts are telling. In less than four decades, harvesting of the grapes in the Penedès region had to be brought forward more than 10 days on average.” To preserve quality, Torres had already adjusted its viticulture practices, planting vines at a higher density per hectare and on higher ground to reduce the impact of increasing temperatures.
Climate change was happening and it was impacting the business today. Something had to be done. Another concern for Miguel Torres was how to successfully transition the business to the fifth generation. How could he ensure the preservation of the family values? How could he make the firm attractive for the best non-family managers? How could he nurture the “youngsters” after his retirement?
- Family business long-term perspective
- Impact of climate change on the wine business
- Social and environmental responsibility of business
- Managing the succession process
- Brand building
- Management in the wine industry