Women change focus of wine making in Argentina

Tue Jan 5, 2010 10:56am EST
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By Vivianne Rodrigues

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - Susana Balbo is to Argentine wine what Martha Stewart is to homemaking and Oprah Winfrey is to media in the United States.

Together with Laura Catena and Anabelle Sielecki, she has helped to change the focus of the Argentina's centuries-old industry from quantity to quality.

Inspired by the altitude of the Andes, the diversity of the grapes and a passion for what they do, the three women have brought back an artisanal approach to winemaking.

Balbo, president of the trade group Wines of Argentina, which represents more than 170 wineries, earned a degree in enology in 1981 and has made wines on four continents.

"Each time, I have learned something new," she said during a visit to New York. "I try to bring it back and see how to incorporate it in my vineyards."

After creating one of Argentina's most famous winemaking facility at Bodega Catena Zapata, Balbo, along with her husband Pedro Marchevsky, in 1999 designed her own winery -- Dominio del Plata.

Catena is the daughter of Nicolas Catena, the owner of the Bodega Catena Zapata winery. She wanted to be a doctor but in 1999 began to take a more active role in the company. Now she is responsible for much of the research for its top blends.

She started making her own wines after the birth of her first son using grapes from small growers who owned some of Mendoza's oldest vineyards.   Continued...

<p>A woman drinks wine during a festival in Miami Beach, Florida February 21, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>