Gloria Collell: Convincing the world one wine drinker at a time
In the world of big-time winemaking it’s rare for a winemaker to be offered the opportunity to develop her own line of wines.
It’s especially rare when a well-established name in the wine business – one that is world famous for sparkling wines – listens when a winemaker says the best to grow the brand is with a still wine.
But so it is with Gloria Collell, the bright and energetic winemaker for Mia Wines, her new line of still wines under the Friexenet umbrella.
Gloria Collell is from the small Catalan town of Sant Sadurní d´Anoia near Barcelona in the Penedes region of Spain, and for more than 20 years she has been with the Ferrer Wine Estates, part of whose portfolio includes Freixenet, the world’s biggest-selling Cava, in the distinctive black bottle.
In 2010, she was invited to sit in during one of the company’s international marketing meetings and to her surprise, the table turned to her for advice.
“They invited me because I have this knowledge about wines so we started brainstorming where the company should go,” Gloria said in a recent interview. “To me, it was evident we should develop a still wine.
“But I was quite honest with them: If we wanted to do it with the Freixenet name, we have to be consistent in quality and honest with the consumer.
If it has the Freixenet name on it, it has to be good.”
That means consistent with the level of quality consumers already know and expect from Freixenet and honest with the traditions of Spanish winemaking.
Freixenet Cava is the sparkling wine opened every day by millions of people across the globe who expect it to be consistently good and consistently affordable, and Gloria deemed it vital any still wine from Freixenet had to be the same.
“Freixenet has been opening the door to many people to the consumption of sparkling wine,” she said. “I told them we should do the same with a still wine. Be honest, easy drinking and focus on good grapes.”
The marketing department liked what it heard and went Gloria one better, offering her the chance to develop this new concept of Freixenet wines.
“And everything started from that point,” she said with a laugh. “For me, it was a fantastic opportunity to get to know the consumer and to make good wine for them and to open the door for them into a wine culture.”
“Our objective is the new wine drinker and to make approachable, fruity, easy-drinking wines,” Gloria said.
That means foregoing the long-standing D.O. [Denomination of Origin] regulations and make wine with the best Spanish grapes available.
“I wanted to make good wine and I wanted Mia to be an ambassador for Spain and Spanish grapes,” Gloria said. “So I decided we would do something with Spanish grape varieties from all over Spain.”
The Mia label (mia means mine in Spanish) appeared in 2011 and today the wines are opening doors in nearly 50 countries.
The Mia red is 100-percent Tempanillo, unoaked and spicy, with a fruit-forward style for people wanting a lighter, easy to drink red.
In keeping with the goal of using traditional Spanish grapes, Gloria makes the Mia rosé with the little-known Bobal grapes from Utiel-Requena in Valencia.
She says the Bobal is winning over consumers more familiar with the Provence style of dry rosés.
There also are two sparkling Moscatos, light and refreshing on the palate and, like most of the Mia wines, targeted for women and younger wine drinkers.
The Mia wines aren’t the first line of wines Gloria helped introduce. In 2009, the Tapeñas line of wines was introduced and while popular, Gloria felt they weren’t “unique enough.”
Instead, she said that when making Mia, “it was a relief for us not to be limited to one appellation.”
She said developing the different Mia wines took a lot of trial and error, trying new blends on her friends.
“I was bringing home (the new wines) without labels and sharing them with my friends, and some of them are really snobs,” she said, laughing. “Soon, I had the reputation of always bringing home all these obscure wines.”
And once in a while, someone would say, “You finally brought a wine I like.”
“We don’t realize that 95% of the consumers drink wine for joy,” she said. “They don’t want to know about the terroir and the climate and the soil and all those things. All they want is something pleasing to drink and good conversation.”
The Mia conversation will continue at Prowein in Dusseldorf when Mia introduces a Sangria.
“The plan is to launch three styles of Sangria, a white, red and one flavored with mojito,” Gloria said. “Sangria is something you drink when you want to relax. The Sangria moment prepares you for lunch and more serious wines.”