The vicissitudes of life were relentless, only this time they came in pairs. Two tribulations at once. Whether the family came out on top or lost everything depended on one young man whose decisions would determine the fate of the family winery: Miguel Torres Carbó (1909–1991).
Familia Torres once again faced the challenges of a new and turbulent socio-political context, which forced the winery to reinvent itself. Making matters worse, this tragically violent period began shortly after Juan Torres's death.
Miguel Torres Carbó: too young to lead?
The death of Juan Torres, a man who had been everything to the company, left a void that filled everyone with anxiety and a sense of uncertainty. Young Miguel lacked business experience so the doubts he inspired did not seem unfounded.
Josefa Carbó, however, transcended her role as matriarch to provide a solid and reliable foundation that kept everything up and running. An educated and determined woman, she provided her son Miguel with invaluable support during the dark period he would have to navigate...
Miguel took the helm at the age of twenty-five, with degrees in chemistry and pharmacology under his belt. He made up for his lack of experience by studying every aspect of making and aging wine. In doing so, he revealed his fierce determination to shape the future of the winery... and his own. A determination that would become part of Familia Torres's DNA.
The civil war broke out. The Italian air force, allied with Franco's Nationalist faction, bombed several Catalan villages. Vilafranca was one of them. The target was the main supply line and mode of transport that was bringing arms and provisions to the front: the train station.
The winery after the civil war bombing (Vilafranca del Penedès)
A bomb fell. Then another. And a third. This particular bomb was a few meters off target... In an instant, the entire history, legacy and hard work of three generations lay buried under rubble and flames, streams of wine tingeing the streets blood red in a metaphor both poetic and terrible. Everything reduced to nothing.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” One can imagine Miguel Torres Carbó standing amid the ruins. “I can't lose heart. Not now. Not me.” Said and done. Miguel rebuilt the winery in under a year. During this time he also embarked on a business trip to Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, the United States and Canada where he paid close attention to the workings of these markets and their particular characteristics.
Miguel Torres Carbó at the Barcelona port
By the time he returned to Barcelona in 1941, he had accomplished a great deal: he had opened sales offices in the United States where in 1944 they brought in over one million pesetas.
Thanks to his own determination and the support of partners and collaborators, Miguel Torres Carbó consolidated and then expanded the business in what would be the most significant growth period of the Familia Torres winery. Still wines, fortified wines, liqueurs, vermouths and brandies shipped out from the Barcelona port every day, with an added novelty: they were all bottled. This was a revolutionary shift that defined a new way of thinking about winemaking, a sort of proto-business-philosophy based on the relationship between provenance and quality, which is a given nowadays.
Miguel Torres Carbó in a vineyard with his car, now displayed at the family museum, where he always kept a bottle of wine to show people
Familia Torres’s timeless classics, now known the world over, are the invaluable legacy of Miguel Torres Carbó – the man who gave our local wines a good name around the world.