By Jim Boyce | Torres China is celebrating its twentieth birthday this year. I’ve dealt with lots of distributors during the past dozen years—some friendly, some dismissive, one that once banned its employees from talking to me, etc. Torres has been the best. Here are twenty reasons, one per year of business, to help explain why.
01 Employee retention is not the most exciting phrase but it matters. Compared to its contemporaries, and to distributors of a similar size, Torres has very low staff turnover, with many employees in place for more than a decade. Incidentally, the very first wine person I met in Beijing, Galia Rautenberg, worked for Torres.
02 Torres has remained family owned even as other distributors with 20-plus years of experience, like ASC and Summergate, have been gobbled up by huge companies.
03 No distributor has done more to raise the profile of quality local wine. Torres represented Shanxi-based Grace, arguably China’s best operation, for a dozen years, and still represents Silver Heights, one of the country’s most respected wine labels.
04 The Torres family has been directly involved in making wine in China. In addition to a short-lived vineyard in Hebei in the late 1990s, Mireia Torres has twice gone to Shanxi to make wine at Grace.
06 Now his son Miguel has taken the baton and is similarly committed.
07 Torres donated rmb500,000 to help rebuild a school severely damaged in the 2009 earthquake in Sichuan.
08 The company created the Everwines brand in 2009. It allows consumers to buy Torres wines through shops and an online platform.
09 Torres has also hosted lots of fun consumer events, including a series called the Taste of Nations.
10 And quirky ones, too, like wine nights limited to four women and four men each.
11 Managing partner Alberto Fernandez is a good interview. When seeking China market insights, he is a go-to source. Here’s a an interview from 2008, another from this year, and one with Damien Shee, recently appointed as China head for Torres.
12 Torres handles some of the best Australia brands, including Vasse Felix, Tyrrell’s and Bass Phillip.
13 It also has excellent trade tastings, like this Mas Da Plana vertical, with wine almost older than me.
14 I once did a BBC TV piece on Chinese wine, needed some local brands fast, and Torres got them to me in an hour. That kind of reaction time matters.
15 Torres supported Grape Wall in organizing, as best I know, the first tasting of Silver Heights in Beijing. Torres provided the bottles, Grape Wall handled the venue and guests, and we soon had new fans of Ningxia wine.
16 Torres has also supported, from the first year, our annual Grape Wall Challenge, where we ask Chinese consumers to serve as wine judges.
17 And it has supported charity efforts by donating wine to the annual Maovember campaign.
18 Oh, and it provided the Beijing Everwines shop as a “tango stop” on our ArgenChina wine tour.
19 Overall, Torres sells good wine, has a loyal staff and has shown a commitment to China.
20 And it puts on a good birthday party, too.