Barcelona’s New Mayor Wants to Send Tourists Packing

Bloomberg Businessweek has published my profile of Ada Colau, Barcelona’s activist-turned-mayor.

In 2007, Ada Colau put on a black leotard, a yellow cape, and a Zorro mask and gate-crashed a campaign rally in Barcelona. For two and a half minutes, Colau commandeered cameras, holding up a cardboard sign—“Housing Out of the Market, Like Education and Health”—while she delivered a speech on irresponsible development. “We don’t want to hear that the solution is to build more,” Colau told the crowd gathered in the small city square. “We have devastated our territory more than enough. There are a lot of houses. What we need is that these houses fulfill their social role.” When she was done, she dashed between a pair of parked cars and sprinted down the street.

She didn’t know it then, but her appearance as a superhero was one of the first steps on a path to city hall. In June she was elected mayor of Barcelona, with the support of a coalition of leftist political parties. She campaigned on fighting inequality.

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Heading for the Hills: Spanish Winemakers Adapt to Global Warming

My piece on how some winemakers are preparing for a warmer future was just published in Time.

When the Spanish winemaker Miguel Torres was a young man, his father sent him to Chile. It was 1979, and the South American country was years away from being recognized for the quality of its wine. But the elder Torres was thinking about the future. He had not forgotten the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, when he twice faced death and the family winery was seized by one side, then bombed by the other. Torres’ father reasoned that a landholding in the New World that was climatically suitable for growing wine would hedge against instability at home.

Spain never did slide back into civil war, but the investment in Chile turned out to be valuable nonetheless. The vast bulk of the family’s wine production remains in Spain, but its vineyards in South America are producing high-quality vintages that, along with the company’s properties at home and in California, make the Bodegas Torres wine company one of the major labels in the industry. Now 69 years old, Miguel Torres oversees sales of more than 42 million bottles a year in more than 140 countries.

Today, Torres is preparing once again for an uncertain future, not because of war but because of global warming, which is threatening his industry. This time, the investment isn’t across the ocean. It’s up the hill — a two-hour drive from the company’s headquarters in Vilafranca del Penedès, near Barcelona, into the foothills of the Pyrenees. There, on a high bluff brushed with pines and peppered with wild rosemary and thyme, swatches of ripening vineyards take advantage of the cool mountain air to produce grapes that would wilt under the Mediterranean heat of the lowlands. “We’re buying land even higher, in areas that are still too cold to plant,” says Torres.

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