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Mendoza's leading Ladies
When Susana Balbo graduated as a winemaker in 1981, she was the first female winemaker in Argentina. Although men still outweigh women in Mendoza’s cellars, there are plenty of inspiring women in Argentine wine today.
Becoming a winemaker was the first step Susana Balbo took to break Argentine women into the world of wine in the 80s, she then went on to become the first female consultant winemaker, the first female President of Wines of Argentina, and became one of the first female winery owners when she started her own winery in Mendoza in 1999. Not only is Balbo known as the Queen of Torrontes for her achievements in revolutionising the style of Argentina’s native white wine variety, but she also inspired a generation of young females to enter the world of wine.
Another notable winery owner is Laura Catena, a fourth generation vintner and figurehead for Catena Zapata, one of Argentina’s greatest international success stories. With a degree in Medicine and in Biology, one of her key contributions to the family dynasty and Mendoza’s wine industry has been establishing the Catena Institute, a research centre partnered with UC Davis in California.
If there’s one bodeguera who really likes to get her hands dirty with all the hard work, it’s Andrea Mufatto. Being second winemaker at Zorzal, under her brother-in-law Juan Pablo Michelini, may be Mufatto’s day job, but by night she runs her own boutique family winery - Gen de Alma - with her husband and children. Balancing motherhood and winemaking is all part of the job description.
Other notable vintners in Mendoza include: Gabriela Celeste, a renowned wine consultant who is the right hand woman of Michel Rolland and also has her own label Escarlata; Andrea Marchiori, who following her success at Viña Cobos now heads up her own production with her husband at Marchiori & Barraud; and Gabriela Furlotti, who is a true force for good and honours not only her ancestors with her boutique family production today but also the vineyard workers having set up one of the first Fairtrade wine productions in Argentina.
Working in the wineries there are also many notable woman, even if they don’t always appear in the limelight. “Behind every good man is a good woman” is a common saying not only in the household but also in the winery, and Mendoza has a powerful legion of female second winemakers. Laura Principiano has been the woman in the wings of Familia Zuccardi’s wine production for over a decade since joining the team of third generation winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi straight out of university. Today she’s responsible for their innovation department where she helps develop some of the most exciting wine creations coming from this notable family winery in the Uco Valley.
Mendoza’s sparkling wine is one of the true gems of the wine scene and the brightest bubbly star of all is Cruzat. Although octogenarian Pedro Rosell is still overseeing production, it is Lorena Mulet who runs the winery day to day and takes charge of creating some of the best bubbles in the country.
Other notable winemakers in Mendoza include: Victoria Prandina of Trivento; Soledad Vargas of Finca Anita; Noelia Torres of Viña Cobos; Carola Tizio of Vicentin; and Valeria Antolin of Piatelli.
The world of wine is no longer a gentleman’s club in Mendoza as hundreds of female winemakers, technicians, businesswomen and sommeliers come to the fore.
By Amanda Barnes