Mireia Torres Maczassek: A Passion For Wine And Fervor For Life

J.M. Towers

Mireia Torres Maczassek, the general director of Bodegas Jean Leon and Torres Priorat, opens up the doors to her world in an exclusive interview with azureazure.

Mireia Torres belongs to one of the world’s great wine families: Bodegas Torres. Her renowned wines, which can be found in over 140 countries, are produced in eight different Spanish Denominations of Origin, and internationally in wineries and vineyards in Chile and the United States. Moreover, Bodegas Torres is part of the prestigious Association Primum Familiae Vini, an exclusive club limited to twelve prominent families and wineries.

Mireia Torres Maczassek
Mireia Torres Maczassek

Although Bodegas Torres was founded in 1870, the Torres family settled in the Penedès area of Catalonia more than three centuries ago, in a historic wine region that predates the Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Since then, the Torres name has been linked to wine and represents the hard work, dedication, and passion of a lineage committed in body and soul to the noble art of creating memorable wines.

Mireia Torres Maczassek, born in Barcelona in 1969, is the fifth generation of the family and the second daughter of Miguel Agustin Torres, current president of the company. Her brother Miguel is the CEO of the company, and since 2010, she has been directing their two prestigious wineries: Jean Leon and Torres Priorat.

One could say that wine and its preparation have been part of Mireia Torres’s life since birth. Her father bestowed on her a sense of responsibility, and from her mother, the German painter Waltraud Maczassek, she seems to have inherited the artistic and bohemian spirit that informs her creative outlook on life. “My mother helped me grow as a person. She is a great artist, and I’ve always thought that the creativity I may have inherited from her is expressed in the wine,” says Torres.

Mireia Torres Maczassek
1. Mireia Torres taking her first communion. 2. Mireia Torres with her father Miguel Agustín, her mother Waltraud Maczassek and brother Miguel. 3. Mireia and her brother with their father. 4. Mireia with Jaume Rovira and Xavier Rubires, experts from the Jean Leon winery. 5. Mireia during her school years.

Although as a child she was not sure of what she wanted to do with her life —she thought of becoming a stewardess or a veterinary— she remembers well her first contact with the soil. “My first job was to harvest. I spent a week working very hard and in the end, I got 100 pesetas. To me, that money was magical and made me feel really happy. “It was my first salary!” she recalls. “I was a bit rebellious as a teen because those are complicated times; you want to be different from your parents and develop your own personality, but at the same time you want to attract their attention.”

Finally, Mireia graduated in Chemical Engineering and moved to France, where she studied Enology and Viticulture at the renowned Ecole Nationale Superieure Agronomique in Montpellier. “When I came back from France, my father took me to the vineyard and began to test me, asking about rootstock and disease. I felt a little uncomfortable, but then, over the years, I realized it was his way of showing me his love and interest.”

Mireia Torres Maczassek
Mireia Torres in front of the Torres Priorat winery.

Mireia Torres, who speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan, English, French, and German, sees herself as a resilient, sincere, generous, simple and hardworking woman. And she is not wrong because that is how people perceive her. In addition to running two warehouses, with everything that entails, Torres never stops traveling. “I just came back from Belgium, from a thematic presentation of the Jean Leon winery, and soon I’m off to Tokyo, as rapporteur for a conference,” she explains. “Every day of my life is different. I never have a normal day. Depending on the time of year, I travel to support the sales team, or I am in the warehouses making decisions related to the harvest, preparing coupage [blends] or working with budgets.”

And yet, she still finds the time to preside Qualidès— a group of wineries settled in the Penedès, which supports environmentally friendly, sustainable and organic viticulture— to advertise the character and excellence of its wines and to promote wine-tourism in this beautiful region of Catalonia. To relax, Mireia likes to take long walks through the countryside. She also loves music, the cinema, theater, and reading. Plus she plays tennis (people say she is a great tennis player).

Mireia Torres Maczassek
Mireia Torres and brother Miguel.

Speaking face to face with Mireia Torres, one of the great ladies of wine in the world, it becomes apparent that she is modest and humble. And when she looks at you with the expressive blue-green eyes she inherited from her parents, you also perceive she is shy and reserved, but at the same time self-confident. When she hears the word wine, her enthusiasm is evident, and talks about it with the same fervor she shows when the conversation turns to her other passion: her children, Nuria and Albert, who are her pride and joy. When we ask if she would like one—or both— of them to manage the family business in the future she explains, “I will support them in whatever they want to do in life, but they have to make the decisions themselves.”

Those who know her agree that Mireia Torres is a meticulous woman with whom it is a pleasure to work, one who will not mind getting mud on her shoes walking among the vines early in the morning when the dew moistens the earth, and whose great illusion is always that the wine produced is better than last year’s. A woman who knows that in the wine business there is always something to learn, that it is impossible to know everything, and who values the importance of each person that works in any of the two wineries she manages. “This is a world where you have to be a team player,” says Torres. “Behind every bottle, there are many people who have contributed to making things go smoothly.”

Mireia Torres Maczassek
Mireia Torres during a recent presentation by Torres Winery.

When asked what makes a good wine, the answer comes immediately: “It is the one which makes you enjoy the moment.” Quoting the head enologist of Torres, Felix Sabat, “a good wine is one that leaves the cups empty.”

Her next challenge is to market the winery’s first cava or sparkling wine. As for the future, Mireia Torres is very clear: “Right now, I live day by day and do not think about anything else. Why bother? I am convinced that if we work well and with all our enthusiasm, good will come.”

Sure it will because with the expertise and perseverance that Mireia Torres brings to everything she does, it could not be otherwise.

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