Winemaking may be old hat to the Torres family, which is on its fifth generation of vintners, but they are always open to new ideas. For the first time in the two-century history of the Torres brand, the family is going to produce Spanish wines from grapes grown outside of Catalonia.
The Torres family recently purchased nearly 500 acres in the Denominaciónes de Origen of Jumilla and Toro. "We've been thinking of new properties for a number of years," said Miguel Torres Sr., manager for the family wineries in Spain and South America. He hopes to make small-production, single-estate bottlings from the sites.
Torres thinks the time is right because Americans and Europeans are becoming more open to Spanish wines from lesser-known regions. Plus, he said, "Prices [for land] have been coming down for years, and we found land in Jumilla for $7,500 per hectare and in Toro for $15,000 per hectare. This is not too expensive." The family has its eye on land in Ribera del Duero, he added, but has not finalized a deal.
Of the 395 acres Torres purchased in Jumilla, almost 150 are planted to grapevines already -- mostly the indigenous Monastrell variety -- and the family will plant another 100 acres, according to Miguel Torres Jr. "The rest has forest and bushes," he said. The 101 acres of unplanted land they purchased in Toro are near vineyards owned by Vega Sicilia and the Barceló Group, he said. There, they plan to plant Syrah and may experiment with other varieties. Neither site has its own winery yet.
Both plots of land sit on plateaus at elevations of between 2,000 feet and 3,000 feet above sea level, Torres Sr. said. The Jumilla vineyard has sandy soil with patches of clay, and the Toro soil is gravelly. The Torres family made some experimental batches of Monastrell and Syrah from nearby vineyards to get an idea of how wine from the areas would taste.
When the vineyards go into full production, Torres Sr. expects to make a total of 20,000 cases to 30,000 cases per year from Jumilla, Toro and Ribera del Duero. That's a small drop compared to the 3 million cases Torres produces annually from its vineyards around the world, and the total value of the wines will probably account for less than 2 percent of the company's turnover, he said.
Torres is best known for its single-vineyard bottlings, such as the Mas La Plana Black Label and Grans Muralles reds and the white Milmanda, but it makes a range of wines from appellations such as Penedès and Conca de Barberá. In addition, the company makes wine under the Miguel Torres label in Chile, where it opened a winery in 1979, and in California under the Marimar Torres label, which was launched in the '80s.
Despite the new ventures, the Torres family "still believes in the potential of Catalonia wines," Torres Sr. said. "And we are launching a new wine from Priorat this year."
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