2012 Lifetime Achievement: Miguel A. Torres
Over a 50-year career, the president of the Torres Group has been a global wine ambassador, opening more than 100 new markets worldwide.
When Miguel Agustín Torres joined his family’s wine company in 1962, Miguel Torres S.A. was a négociant, selling about 20,000 cases of wine and brandy in a handful of countries. A half-century later, Torres wines are produced on three continents and sold in 150 countries, with annual sales topping $280 million.
But the way Torres sees it, his time in the wine business should not be measured in case production or in revenue. Rather, Torres focuses on how his wines are perceived in places like the United States as well as emerging wine-consuming countries like China, India and Brazil.
He also takes pride that one of his two daughters and his son are taking over the reins of a thriving company, and that the Torres Group employs some 1,300 people in a manner that gives each a sense of pride and ownership.
Torres, 71, is an outward thinker with a global vision and a firm understanding of the concept of terroir. For example, Torres spearheaded his family’s first foray into international wine production by purchasing land in Chile’s Curicó Valley in 1979.
Shortly after starting the family’s Chilean operations, Torres helped launch the Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery in California’s Sonoma County, named after his sister who has run the estate since its inception.
“I just handled the viticulture, the selection of clones and rootstocks. But all credit goes to my sister,” says Torres from the company’s headquarters in the Penedès region of Spain.
Torres says one of his key accomplishments during the 1990s, when he took full control of the Torres Group, was educating Catalonian grape growers about the importance of quality and planting additional estate vineyards throughout Catalonia.
Today, Torres has roughly 4,500 acres of vines in Catalonia to go with about 1,000 acres in Chile and 75 acres in California.
“When my father passed away and I became president, I went to study leadership and strategies at the IMD [International Institute for Management Development] school in Switzerland,” says Torres. “After that was when we really began to grow and look outward.”
In 1993, Torres traveled to China. Two years later, he started a joint venture aimed at importing Torres wines. Today, wholly owned Shanghai Torres Wine Trading Co. Ltd., which includes 23 Everwines retail outlets throughout China, is profitable and has become one of the largest wine importers and distributors in China.
The early ’90s was also when Torres, working with Robert Drouhin of Burgundy, created the Primum Familiae Vini, an organization that originally included leading family-owned wine producers like Robert Mondavi, Marchese Piero Antinori, the Symingtons and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, among others.
Humble, multilingual and a tireless promoter of the Torres brand and Spanish wines as a whole, Wine Enthusiast is proud to bestow our prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on Miguel A. Torres.
“I always appreciate being called humble, although my wife, Waltraud, would beg to differ,” jokes Torres. “One of my traditions has been to periodically eat a simple lunch of chickpea stew with my workers. Now that my son Miguel Jr. is our new general manager, he will continue the tradition. That’s the type of legacy I’m most happy about.”