Can wines be kind to the environment? One Catalan producer is leading the way – and also making great wines

John Wilson: The greatest changes will come about when larger companies adapt their practices

The Catalan wine producer Familia Torres has been to the forefront in combating the effects of climate change in the vineyard, winery, and further down the supply chain too. Miguel Torres snr retired as president some years ago, but now heads up a team of three full-time employees dedicated to mitigating the effects of climate change.

While we tend to see smaller artisan producers as less damaging to the environment, the greatest changes will come about when larger companies adapt their practices. To this end, Torres and American producer Kendall-Jackson founded the IWCA, an organisation whose members will achieve a verifiable 80 per cent reduction of total carbon emissions by 2045.

Over the past 20 years, Torres has rediscovered ancestral grape varieties that ripen later. Varieties such as forcada and moneu have been approved for use in the DO (recognised denomination of origin status) and gonfaus, querol and pirene are showing real promise. Torres has made them available to other growers. They are generally grown in higher altitude cooler vineyards.

Other innovations include allowing chicken and sheep into the vineyards to keep cover crops under control, and viticulture is being adapted to suit warmer conditions through drought-resistant rootstocks and wider vine spacing.


The company has invested heavily in solar energy, rainwater ponds, carbon capture in the winery, and reafforestation. While cynics might see it as greenwashing, it is obvious that the company has put huge efforts into making changes, reducing its carbon footprint by 36 per cent. It is one of the few companies that publish their verified emission figures annually. Some 11 per cent of net profits are used to combat climate change.

Torres produces a range of wines from various regions of Spain, as well as Chile and California.

Vina Sol 2021, Bodegas Torres, Vegan, Wine of Spain

12%, €13.50, €10 on promotion

Light, easy and refreshing, with crisp pear fruits and a dry finish. Drink it solo, with grilled white fish or lighter chicken dishes. From: Fine Wines; Number 21; Dwan’s; Molloys; Next Door; Martins D3; McHugh’s, D5; O’Briens; The Grapevine; Dunnes; SuperValu; Tesco.

Waltraud Riesling 2021, Familia Torres, Penédes

11.5%, €24

A delicious light crisp dry Riesling with floral aromas, lemon zest and green apples. Drink it on its own or with crab. From: Bradleys, Cork; Corkscrew, D2; Pinto Wines, D9

Clos Ancestral Red 2020, Torres, Penedes

14%, €21.95

This wine includes 40 per cent Moneu, a rediscovered variety. Fragrant, medium-bodied, with delicious fresh plums and raspberries balanced by a savoury touch of liquorice. From: Bradleys, Cork; Corkscrew, D2; Pinto Wines, D9;

Salmos 2018, Torres, Priorat

14%, €35

A medium to full-bodied blend of Cariñena and Garnacha. Violet aromas, beautifully textured ripe red fruits with a strong mineral finish. Goes well with robust red meats or bean dishes. From: Supervalu; Bradleys, Cork; Redmonds, D6; Neighbourhood Wine; Mortons, Galway.