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Gloria Collell interview for Women's Day

Gloria Collell has a special energy and a charming Spanish flair when she speaks.  Despite being involved in plenty of projects and spending half of her life travelling, she still has time for her two main passions: her family and wine.

Gloria is a key member of the extended Freixenet family and the name behind the successful MIA range by Freixenet. However Gloria exudes a passion for wine that goes beyond her day job. Mother, winemaker and wine lover; we couldn’t think of a better lady to speak to to celebrate International Women’s Day!

How did you become introduced within the world of wine?

I was born in Vic in Catalonia which is situated only 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Barcelona. My family was linked to the wine industry and for me it has always been of interest to me. My grandfather made leather wine pouches and my father had a business vision where he decided to start selling bottled wine. I grew up in the industry, where my father would bring home three bottles of new wines on a Friday night to taste and decide if we were to sell them or not.

I then started a degree in Law, something completely different to the wine world, and I soon discovered that it wasn’t for me. My father suggested joining him for a while before deciding what to do so I started working in the family business. I will always be grateful to my father for the advice as it triggered my love for the wine world. I discovered how much I enjoyed talking about wine, to communicate the world of wine to others. I realised it was something I was really good at! Soon afterwards I studied oenology with the idea of creating a Wine Club within my father’s business, providing training... But I quickly fell in love with two things – her eyes light up and she shares a smile- … A guy from Penedés and the beautiful Cava region itself.

So when did your relationship with Freixenet begin?

After finishing my oenology studies, I did a stage at Burgundy and later on I joined a Cooperative in Penedés. Then I started working at Segura Viudas, which is part (and a “jewel”) of the Freixenet Group. That’s how everything started with Freixenet! I was in the technical team at the lab so after a while I realised I missed the contact with people to educate and communicate wine. This was a turning point in my life when I started to think about leaving Freixenet to move back into the family business and follow through with our original Wine Club plans. My father was the one who opened my eyes: Segura Viudas was a great company with huge potential and offered much more possibilities to develop my career than the family business. He told me: “Gloria, you will always have the family business but if you miss this fantastic opportunity, it may not come around again”.

So I stayed working for the Freixenet Group, but moved to the Marketing and Communications Department. I talked to key opinion leaders, spent time with buyers and provided training to the Group … It was  a very exciting time at Freixenet, the Group were buying new cellars and wineries, increasing the portfolio of great wines that we share with our consumers. It was during this time that the Mia project was started.
 

You have inspired a new global brand within the Freixenet Group to allow a new generation of consumers, particularly young women to engage more with wine. Tell us more about this project and the creation of MIA.

A few years ago we identified the market need to make wine more accessible to consumers, especially young females. This involved years of research and surprisingly, the proposition with the endorsement of a female winemaker (In this case me!) was the strongest one by far… It then led into the exciting task of creating a whole new range of wines using my breadth of experience  but also with a younger more female audience in mind.

I decided to accept the new venture on the condition that I could be involved 100% within the project: I wanted to believe in the products if they were to have my name and face associated with them.  It was time for Freixenet to make modern, easy drinking wines so I spent over a year talking to wine drinkers all over the world to define and develop what is now (4 years later!) a global franchise, MIA. The MIA range now expands from sparkling to still wine and more recently into Ready to drink products with a real Sangría coming soon. We wanted to open the door to the new wine drinker and the main objective was to make approachable, honest, fruity, easy-drinking wines.

 

“The main objective was to make approachable, honest, fruity, easy-drinking wines”.

 

Can you tell me more about the products in the range?

The first one to be launched was the still Red in 2011, then the White in 2012 and the Rosé in 2013. We didn’t want premium or complex wines but wines that are meant to be enjoyed at any occasion, not only for big celebrations.

Later on we added the sparklers to the MIA range. We already had the credentials for creating Cava, so decided we should use them to create sparkling wines that can be consumed every day. We introduced Fresh & Crisp and two sparkling Moscatos – a white and a rosé. Mia Moscato is fruity and fresh with pleasing sweetness, and the Moscato Rosé is a bit more floral and tropical, with its pink colour coming from a touch of Tempranillo. In Spain we have fantastic Moscatel grapes that we mainly export, so it would be a waste not to use them.

We are currently working on two exciting new members of the MIA range; a couple of Sangrias, one Red and another White. The range couldn’t be complete without such a traditional Spanish drink!

 

Why did you choose that name, MIA?

We called it MIA because all the growers, designers, bottlers and distributors wanted to be part of the project it and started calling it “mine”. At the same time, we wanted an easy name to be pronounced globally so we just thought Mia- the Spanish word for mine- suited the project perfectly.

How would you pair the sparklers?

Fresh & Crisp is an amazing bubbly for any occasion. It’s very versatile and balanced. It’s perfect as an aperitif or starter with some tapas, nuts, chips, cheeses…It’s also fantastic with a dried fruit salad or with parmesan cheese dishes. You can enjoy it after work or during a special occasion.

The Moscatos are ideal as desserts. I actually see them as bottled desserts! They are especially good with chocolate. The Pink Moscato is awesome with Strawberry Cheesecake. For a more unconventional pairing, they are great with blue cheeses or foie.

 

How is to be a woman in such a male dominated industry like the wine industry?

My work within this industry has mainly been involved with Freixenet, a brand where women hold a very relevant role. Dolores Sala, one of the founders, took charge of the business when she widowed and lost her oldest son during the Spanish Civil War. She was left alone with four children and a wine business to run. 

Almost a century later, Mrs. Dolores Sala is an epitome of entrepreneurship and pioneer spirit.  Her legacy is more present than ever at Freixenet, supporting the professional development of many talented women around the world providing them with flexi

“Freixenet was built by the tenacity, entrepreneurship and vision of a woman, Dolores Sala… we are company with a successful woman behind"

 

During my oenology studies, there were more women than men in my class. This made me realise that the next generation of winemakers would be slightly more female and things were changing. However, I still think men occupy the majority of top positions within the wine industry.

Do you think being a woman gives you a different perspective/approach to wine?

I do believe we have a different perception of wine. We perhaps own  a more developed sensitivity. We grow up with more references and more educated at a sensorial level. We grow up with perfumes, make-up…Those references are transferred to the wine world. Despite this, the wine world is a very practical field, so it’s more about learning and acquiring these qualities with time and practice.

I also feel women look for more aromatic and elegant wines and men tend to prefer full-bodied wines.

 


How do you juggle family and wine?

There is nothing better than being passionate for your job. In my case, after my family, wine is my passion and my hobby and it’s a privilege to go to work each day.  My role requires lot of travelling and I’m doing my Master of Wine qualification too, so I’m even busier. My holidays are usually planned around wine – my husband and I take the children to different vineyards and we have dinner with my friends from the wine industry: winemakers, growers.... People from the wine world are great people!

“Wine is my passion and my hobby and that’s a privilege”.

 

What would you recommend to a young women wanting to know more about wine?

First of all, I would recommend for her to get surrounded by friends who also like wine. Then, try to learn as much as possible by going to tastings, subscribing to wine clubs, buying and trying different wines, checking out new wine websites… And travelling to wine regions! The world of wine is a beautiful world and personally, I couldn’t be luckier when I learn that consumers around the world are enjoying the wines that I helped create.

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