The award of an honorary URV doctorate to honour the personal and professional career of this world-renowned viticulturist and businessman was proposed by the Faculty of Oenology. The investiture was held on 21st October in the Auditorium of the Offices of the Rector
Joan Miquel Canals, dean of the Faculty of Oenology and sponsor of the award, observed that the work undertaken by the University in training oenologists creates wealth because winemaking involves both our region and a whole world, with thousands of jobs, acres of countryside, social structure and sustainability. Referring to the award, Canals added, “the investiture of Miguel A. Torres recognises the work of the most emblematic company in the wine-producing industry of our region”. Bodegas Torres collaborates substantially with the URV, and many of our postgraduate students work for the company as oenologists or in the company’s general and technical offices.
Miguel A. Torres studied Oenology at the University of Dijon in France before joining the family business as a member of the fourth generation of wine producers. In 1963 he became the company’s technical director and in 1991 he was named president and chief executive officer. Today Bodegas Torres is run by his sons while Sr Torres heads the company’s environmental section.
In introducing the candidate, Joan Miquel Canals explained why Torres had been proposed for the award, pointing out that his primary concern had always been to create a multinational company along totally different lines from those that were common in Spain in the 1970s when the wine trade was governed by variations in price. For Bodegas Torres, the keys to achieving their business objectives have always been quality, research, innovation and marketing. The company has produced such world-famous wines as Mas La Plana, Coronas, Gran Coronas, and Milmanda. Bodegas Torres now sells wines in over 150 countries, cultivates 1,800 hectares, and employs 1,300 workers and 900 viticulturists. The company’s DNA comprises the following nine key aspects: people (first and foremost), ecology, fair trade, social responsibility, innovation, internationalisation, marketing, family, and the great family of wine.
Concern for climate change
Miguel A. Torres said he felt the University has been “too generous” with him. He then recalled his early career when he began work for the old family business on a small piece of land and how in 1979, at the most important wine-tasting event of the time (organised by French magazine “Gault Millau”), his Mas La Plana wine was unexpectedly classified above the hugely famous Chateau Latour. At different periods of his life while studying in Dijon and Montpellier, he discovered his love for wine and viticulture.
Both his desire for lifelong learning and his social readings made him aware, he said, of the importance of employing committed workers, encouraging their involvement in the company, making them optimistic about the company’s future, and trying to improve their standard of living year on year.
A student of climate change, in his acceptance speech he provided a detailed description of the evolution of climate from Prehistory to the 20th century and global warming. The greenhouse effect, which has caused the temperature rise of the last few decades, is manmade. Miguel A. Torres is pessimistic about the current situation, despite the progress made through internationally signed agreements, because of the economic structures in place and because people remain unconvinced of the need to urgently change their lifestyle. In the last eight years, he explained, Bodegas Torres has invested 10 million euros on renewable energies, biomass and research. The company produces a quarter of its electricity from renewable energies, has 50 hybrid or electrical vehicles, and is investigating how algae can capture the CO2 from fermentation and the rapid formation of carbonates from CO2. “My dream is that one day it may be said that drinking a glass of wine helps to combat climate change”, he added.
After welcoming Miguel A. Torres to the University, the URV rector, Josep Anton Ferré, explained that this was the first time that an honorary doctorate had been awarded to a business person and that collaboration between the University and the productive sector is necessary both for economic and social development and for transforming university knowledge into value and employment. The URV has been committed to Oenology since its inception. The decision to make this commitment was an important one that has given the University stronger ties to its region.
The ceremony was chaired by the rector, who was accompanied by the president of the University Council, Joan Pedrerol, and the general secretary of the URV, Esteve Bosch. Attending the ceremony were numerous dignitaries from the world of wine, including: Valentí Roqueta, president of the Catalan Wine Association; Salvador Puig, general director of INCAVi; Enric Vigas, of the Catalan Cork Institute; and Santi Rius of Rius&Rius wine consultants. Members of the URV choir, choral society and orchestra performed the opening music and Gaudeamus Igitur at the end of the ceremony.