Carlos Moro: The Innovation Interview

Carlos Moro, Founder, President & CEO of The Matarromera Group of wineries shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and wine.

Born in Valladolid, Spain in 1953, he is a Technical Agricultural Engineer and, above all, a wine lover. His family background has been always linked to the vineyards and the wine. His ancestors were pioneers in the planting of vines in Olivares de Duero and Valbuena de Duero, considered today as the most prestigious area in the Ribera del Duero wine region.

In 1988 he decided to change his professional and personal life and started to built a dream which finally became true. In 1988, Matarromera Winery was founded in Valbuena de Duero.

Carlos Moro worked for 7 years as Agronomist Engineer for the Spanish Minister of Agriculture. He was also Deputy Secretary General of the Spanish Food & Beverage Industry Federation and Agricultural Expert at F.A.O. (Food and Agriculture Organization).

In the 1980’s he was also an Engineer at the General Directorate of Agricultural Industries. Carlos Moro also belongs to the Senior State Civil Service Corps, he was the Secretary General of the Technical Aeronautical Material Builders Association and Member of the Intergovernmental Committee of Airbus.

Carlos is a member of CARTIF Board, member of the Board of Valladolid Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of the Spanish German Chamber of Commerce, Project Manager of the R&D Wine Panel Test, Emina Club Founder, and creator of the Oils from the Duero Association, among many other responsibilities.

However, despite his impressive academic background, it was his passion for the world of wine that led him to create Matarromera Winery located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero region where Carlos Moro started his own dream. Since then, Carlos’ life changed drastically.

After creating Matarromera, Carlos Moro continued his wine trajectory with another 6 different wineries: Valdelosfrailes in Cubillas de Santa Marta (in Cigales Region, Valladolid, Spain), Rento winery which is located in an old noble house of the XVI century where the Marquis of Olivares lived, and where a Jesuit Convent was built afterwards.

At the same time, the group of wineries grew with Emina Rueda winery (D.O. Rueda Region) and Emina Oxto (for fortified wines).

The birth of Emina Wine Interpretation Centre in Valbuena de Duero in 2006 was a revolution in the national wine scene. It also houses a spectacular wine cellar with modern architecture where a Museum of Wine and a wine tourism complex was created to catapult Emina as the first reference in wine tourism for the region.

In recent years, Carlos Moro also created Abrobiotec Company, devoted to biotechnology applied to food industry, and Esdor Cosmetics, engaged in the research, development and production of natural cosmetics coming from the polyphenols grape skins.

In 2009 Carlos Moro was elected President of VITARTIS, Food Biotechnology Business Association in Castilla y Leon.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

INNOVATION is a necessity. It is a philosophy and a way to manage a company. Since I created the Matarromera winery in 1988 I have considered Research, Development and Innovation as a main pillar of our strategy. It is a different policy and people might think that it is an expensive policy, but from our point of view it has been profitable.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

The Wine industry definitely needs to bet on R&D. We can not think that everything already has been made because what we did 10 years ago is probably useless today. That is why we need to think carefully about it. Of course, we must not forget our history and our traditions, but we won’t survive with this alone. The world, the market, and it’s preferences change every day and we need to adapt our work and products to these trends.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

When I was young I used to go to the family vineyards with my Dad every week. He always told me that I should leave the vineyards because they would be available whenever I wanted, so he insisted that I go to Madrid to become an Agricultural Engineer and to start working in Public Administrations. That advice was essential for me because I could train in several disciplines that I would need in the future.

On the other side, I do not think I should give any advice as nobody knows the whole truth, but I would recommend to everyone (entrepreneurs, winemakers, and the rest of the industry) to keep training and studying. There is always something to improve or something to invent.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

To be honest, I think our greatest achievement is our continuous wine success in the market. Since we started to commercialize our wines we have received several prizes and recognitions, but the most important one (and the most difficult) is how the global market sees our different wines positively year after year.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

I still prefer physical newspapers and books, but it is obvious that things are changing and we need to get ready for that. But at this moment, reading a book or a newspaper physically, feeling the paper between my fingers, is much better than touching a screen.

When and why did you start to reinvest more than a third of the group’s profits into research and development?

We established our R&D Department in 2005, although that was something that I had in my mind long time ago. I considered that investing that huge amount of money was going to be worth it in the future, and time is starting to give me the reason. Obviously, it is a very risky strategy, but sometimes as an entrepreneur you need to assume difficult decisions.

What was the inspiration and why did you build an Innovation Lab at the Winery?

The inspiration basically comes from my own philosophy. That’s the way I think. We established our own Lab at EMINA Winery and today more than 12 people are working on more than 30 different projects. Some of them will see the light some day, but maybe some of them won’t (let’s hope these are the least!)

How large have you estimated the non-alcoholic wine market to be?

The non alcoholic wine market is much larger than the “normal” wine market. Two simple questions: how many regular wine drinkers can you find in the world? 200 million? Maybe 300 or 500? The second question is: how many tentative non alcoholic wine drinkers can you find in the world? I can count to around 6.5 billion people. The whole world. All the targets. All the people, all the different religions.

It is a very difficult market as we are just starting to commercialize it and there are no other companies doing this, but we are confident about its success in the future and we will see that its succeeds.

Have you experimented with technologies or techniques that would help to prevent the sale and distribution of counterfeit wine?

Not really. I know that it is a serious problem for the industry, as it is also for the technology markets, fashion, etc.

What is the next great market for Spanish Wines?

At this point, I always like to be honest: Spanish wine needs to become much bigger in the international scene. It is extremely difficult to find very good Spanish wines in China, The United States and many other countries, while you can find very good French, Italian, Australian, Chilean and Argentinean wines. In my opinion, Spanish wines are extremely good, but the international market doesn’t feel the same way as most of the Spanish wineries have not found the way to export their excellent wines. That is one the biggest problems of the Spanish wine industry.

So, trying to answer your question, the next great market for Spanish wines is almost the whole world as we still need to grow dramatically in almost every country in the world.