Argentina's First Female Winemaker Traversed Mountain Roads and Dealt with "Garbage Books" to Find Success
Learn more about Susana Balbo, Queen of Torrontes.
F&W's #FOODWINEWOMEN series spotlights top women in food and drink in collaboration with Toklas Society. On Wednesdays in January, visionaries reveal the sacrifices they’ve made for their success. Use the hashtag on Twitter (@foodandwine) to name the women who inspire you.
Who: Susana Balbo
What: Argentina’s First Female Winemaker, aka the "Queen of Torrontes"
Where: Dominio del Plata
Sometimes, life gives us great challenges. We never know if we are ready to face them; the only thing we have is the conviction or strength at least to try. My philosophy has always been: "Never give up—if you fail, you'll gain experience; if you succeed, it’s the beginning of a virtuous circle."
Another lesson I’ve learned via my long life’s work is that having that attitude and conviction is what helps you achieve what you are pursuing in life, for yourself and your beloved ones. That said, it’s not always easy. Here, five sacrifices I’ve made along the way.
1. Moving to a new place. I moved from my hometown of Mendoza to Cafayate, a very little town in the Calchaquíes Valley in Salta (northen Argentina). Wow, it sounds like hell. However, it was the beginning of my real freedom!
2. Limited time to pursue other things that I love. I'm a compulsive reader, but my new home was far away from bookstores, 150 miles throughout mountain roads. My solution was that once a month, I went to Salta City to buy all kinds of books I could find to read. Many of them, as I bought compulsively, were terribly written or without any interest to me, which made me become a sort of garbage books collector!
3. To live far from live music. However, I decided to get a full subscription to Mozarteum in Salta City, traveling all the way on Friday afternoons, listening to the concert and coming back home late that same night to work Saturday morning in the winery. In some of those trips, I had to stop on the side of the road to sleep a little bit before continuing on.
4. When I finally met my husband, we had kids, and all the sacrifices were made for them. They were babies with a mom that went to work in the winery—maybe that is why both of them are now actually working in the winery with me! Their souls were forged with the wine flavor, and the sound of pumping over (maceration) was their cradle song.
5. Travel, travel and travel again, all over the world to promote my wines and company, alone, sometimes getting sick, missing my kids' birthdays. It is not fun, but at the end it’s the only way to be successful—to make sacrifices.