The awards were created to recognise those from various sectors who have worked to reduce CO2 emissions and promote sustainability. This year’s winners were: viticulturist Tomàs Peig from the Terra Alta region, French glass maker Verallia, Córdoba-based transport company Juan Ruiz, the town of Caldes de Montbui in the Barcelona province, and Spanish environmental journalist José Luis Gallego.
The five individuals and entities that were awarded represent a broad range of initiatives in line with the Torres family’s holistic approach to tackling climate change. As a company with wineries in multiple regions on three continents, it’s an issue Torres has taken seriously and for the last 15 years it’s been a core aspect of the business. To date, Torres has invested €16m in the pursuit of lowering its overall carbon footprint as well as being less harmful to the environments where it produces wine.
When compared to the start of its green initiative in 2008, Torres has been able to reduce the CO2 emissions of the company by 35% and the current goal is a 60% reduction by 2030.
During a speech outlining all the work done to date, Miguel A. Torres stated, ‘We must get actively involved in the climate emergency and be ready to change things: we must stop depending on fossil fuels, use renewable energy, eat more vegetarian dishes, and heavily reduce the use of plastics.’
Upon accepting their award, each of the recipients gave a short speech that picked up on various points of what Torres has laid out. However, it was the mayor of Caldes de Montbui, Isidre Pineda i Moncusí (whose council was awarded for implementing a strong renewable energy policy), who gave the most impassioned speech, stating: ‘It’s important to always keep in mind that this work is not only doable but necessary because it’s costing all of us.’
In the decade and a half since Torres began its work, a great many of the initiatives have been newsworthy such as: CO2 capture in the wineries as well as planting vineyards at higher elevations, reviving ancient, nearly-forgotten grape varieties that look to be better adapted to future viticulture, researching how to better manage vineyards in rising temperatures, changing vehicles to fully electric (Torres was the first winery to start using an electric tractor in Europe in 2020), and very importantly, the installation of sufficient solar panels to produce 50% of all electricity needs at the flagship winery.
While each initiative on its own would be commendable, the awards illustrated the entire scope of the various efforts by the company, showing a measured approach to true sustainability. This was emphasised from the start of the awards as Torres had displayed a gallery around the presentation salon, outlining its work which Miguel A. Torres explained in more detail during the presentation. As the company produces millions of bottles annually, it was able to see that small changes could make big impacts but that there isn’t any one aspect that can be pulled out individually to fully solve the issue of sustainability. It’s a puzzle in which every piece counts.
Torres has also looked outward, beyond its own wineries and vineyards, with a plan to plant one million new trees on a 5,000ha estate called ‘Los Cóndores’ in Patagonian Chile. In addition to reclaiming a forest that had been stripped during times of settlers, this has the additional benefit of offsetting carbon output from the winery.
In 2019 Torres founded International Wineries for Climate Action in collaboration with Jackson Family Wines of California. The goal was to work with other producers (now at 37 members in nine countries) to achieve long-term sustainability in wine production and, at a minimum, be carbon neutral by 2050.
It’s clear to see that given sustained efforts throughout the 21st century, Torres isn’t just trying to ‘greenwash’ the business. Miguel A. Torres has repeatedly stated over the years that: ‘Climate change for viticulture is worse than phylloxera’ and the company realises that if the wine industry doesn’t evolve to meet climate change head on, it will cease to exist.