Category Archives: MUST – Wine Summit

MIGUEL A. TORRES ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND WINE MAKING – MUST-FERMENTING IDEAS WINE SUMMIT

As I noted in my last post (LINK), I spent three pretty amazing days at this Wine Summit (LINK) in Cascais/Estoríl, Portugal. The summit covered a number of topics over its three-day length – but climate change was perhaps the most repeated and most critical. I will dedicate this post to Senõr Torres’ presentation alone. Most future posts will cover more than one presentation.

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None other than Miguel A. Torres, President and Managing Director of Bodegas Torres, and is a member of the fourth generation of this family business. His topic was “Climate Crisis and Its Consequences for the European Viniculture.” As a global wine company, Bodegas Torres is faced with many challenges, including growing grapes and making wine in a number of different locations with different climate patterns, business practices, and political environments. Senior Torres noted that, in his mind, climate change is the most important issue and his company is dedicating 11% of profits for programs researching and mitigating climate change.

“We have not sold one more bottle due to steps we have taken (regarding climate change).”

~ Miguel A. Torres

This statement speaks volumes – much of the work required to mitigate the effects of climate change does not increase sales, but, in the long term, it may well preserve them. Senõr Torres showed a series of slides on what climate change is and on what Bodega Torres is doing to mitigate its effects.

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Here are a few of the things they are doing:

 

Minimizing chemical and pesticide use (reducing below organicó requirements):

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Reintroducing ancestral Catalan varieties which are more resistant to heat:

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Examining introduction of distinctly foreign varieties into growing areas:

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Reduction in energy consumption – electric vehicles, solar panels, etc.:

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Studying bottling and packaging materials to reduce weight and waste:

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Studying Carbon Capture and Reuse (CSR) in the fermentation process:

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Participate in the EU carbon emissions reduction program (Greta Thunberg):

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Active Participation & Leadership in International Wineries for Climate Action Group:

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Senõr Torres is clearly passionate about being proactive about climate change and is taking a global perspective fitting for a global company. Torres Wines are made in Spain, Italy, Chile, and the United States (California). He noted that the approach to climate change is different in each location, as are the political issues relating to climate change. And he had some advice for property owners:

“For those of you who live near the sea, it is time to sell. Don’t wait!”

~ Miguel A. Torres

During the Q&A session, I had the opportunity to ask a question, and I opened with this comment:

“I go to a lot of conferences and events, and you’re the first person of your stature in this, or any industry to take such a strong stance on climate change.”

~ Me to Miguel A. Torres at MUST-Fermenting Ideas

The wine industry, especially its vineyards, are like the canaries in the coal mine for the effects of climate change. Those who are not investing in taking actions like Bodega Torres may increasingly find themselves with damaged products, and eventually with none.

As always, your comments are welcomed!

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Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

MUST – FERMENTING IDEAS WINE SUMMIT 2019

I spent three pretty amazing days at this Wine Summit (LINK) in Cascais/Estoríl, Portugal. The focus of the summit, now three years old, is innovation in the wine industry. Speakers and attendees covered a wide range of industry representatives, from growers, to winery operators, marketers, business consultants, wine writers, and others. The coordinators/founders are Rui Afalcao (also a presenter) and Paulo Salvador. Both were available throughout the summit.

I was there on a press pass (full disclosure), and I really have nothing negative to say about the event. It was among the best organized and presented conferences I have attended anywhere (more about that in a minute), and I was surprised that attendance was not higher. I don’t know the numbers, but there were a good number of empty seats, which means that a lot of people missed a great opportunity to get some timely and important information about the state of the wine industry and its future.

They also missed a chance to visit one of the most beautiful areas of Portugal, along the Atlantic Ocean about 30 minutes west of Lisbon. Lovely beaches, great food and wine, and lots to explore in the areas of Estoríl and Cascais.

The Wine Summit had a simple format – speakers each day with a few panel discussions spread around. Each speaker had an hour and usually spoke for 40 minutes or so, then responded to questions from a moderator and the audience. The excellent Summit staff had 4 portable microphones to get to audience members, and that aspect of the program ran very smoothly.

I will be posting in more detail about some of the presentations over the next few weeks. Speakers included Eric Asimov, NYTimes Wine Writer; Gaia Gaja, of the legendary Italian Wine family; Miguel A. Torres, President of Bodega Torres; Isabelle Legeron, France’s first female Master of Wine; Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Wine Advocate; Felicity Carter, Editor-in-Chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International; and many others. Here is a LINK to the speakers list (click on SPEAKERS).

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Jim with Eric Asimov

The big topics – climate change, changing markets for wine, natural wines, wine writing and criticism, and technology in wine making and marketing, and the importance of tradition while moving toward innovation.

Naturally, one of the best things about an event like this is the conversation during breaks, over meals, and into the evening about all things wine. And, of course, drinking some of the amazingly unique Portuguese wines along the way.

As noted above, the summit was very well run, beginning with a well-designed website with good information and a simple registration process. Once at the site – the Centro de Congressos do Estoril, a very modern facility – the event was laid out beautifully with excellent graphics, good signage, and a gathering area where breaks, lunch, and lots of wine tastings happened. The site was well-staffed and the staff was very responsive and generous in making sure that everyone had what they needed.

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As noted above, I will get into more specifics over the next few posts – and if you look through my Twitter feed @JimLockardWine there are lots of specifics and photos. Consider this an introduction – and an invitation to put this event on your radar for 2020.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard