Marimar Torres has been involved in the wine business all her life. Born in 1945 in Barcelona, Spain, she is fluent in six languages and holds a degree in Business and Economics from the University of Barcelona. She is also a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, and studied Enology and Viticulture for a year at the University of California at Davis. At Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery, she directs the activities at the winery and in both vineyards – Don Miguel (named after her late father) in the Russian River Valley and Doña Margarita (named after her late mother) in the Sonoma Coast AVA, both in Sonoma County. Prior to her involvement in the California operation, Marimar traveled extensively promoting Torres wines, first in Spain as the company’s export director and later in North America, when California became her home in 1975. At that time, shipments of Torres wines to the U.S. totaled 15,000 cases; ten years later they reached 150,000. To achieve this was not easy, though; especially in the beginning, Marimar was confronted with the common notion that the wine business was no place for a woman. Eventually, her tenacity and business acumen helped her overcome this bias, and she became the best-known ambassador of Spanish wines in North America.
In 1986, Marimar began planting the Don Miguel Vineyard, a 56-acre property in a cool microclimate ideally suited to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Today the property encompasses 81 acres, of which 30 are planted with Chardonnay and 30 with Pinot Noir. Also planted to Pinot Noir are 20 acres of a 180-acre property in West Sonoma County, between Freestone and Occidental.
Due to her European heritage, emphasis on the vineyard is a natural concept for Marimar; the wines, made entirely from estate-grown grapes, are truly an expression of their unique terroir. The first release, a 1989 barrel-fermented Chardonnay, debuted in April 1991 to great acclaim. In 1992, a 15,000-case winery was built and the Estate’s first Pinot Noir was produced.
Marimar’s dedication to the wine business, however, has not come at the expense of other pursuits. With an authority on Spanish cuisine, her first book, The Spanish Table: The Cuisines and Wines of Spain, was published in 1986. Her second book, The Catalan Country Kitchen, came out in April 1992. Marimar lives in California – in Sausalito and at her Russian River Valley home above the vineyard. She also has a home in Sitges, Spain. Her hobbies include spending time with her daughter Cristina, cooking, skiing, tennis, biking and travel. Family pride and integrity have enabled Torres to blend centuries-old traditions with the latest innovations to produce outstanding wines known the world over. Marimar herself has become a symbol of this heritage.
To quote Charlie Deal, owner and chef at Jujube, “…[Marimar] had to fight sexism in the industry and even from her own family who seemed to find her desire to get into the family business as something cute that she would hopefully out grow so she could just settle down. Thankfully, she never did” (Link to Charlie’s Article).
Celebrating Women in Wine
In 1998, NWA and Tom Black put together a women-centric l’Eté du Vin to celebrate the power and success of women in the wine industry. It’s only fitting that on the twentieth anniversary of that empowered evening, we do the same. These women are talented, fierce, and deserving of our recognition for more than simply being women.