Susana Balbo: redefining a family brand
In 1981 Susana Balbo became the first woman in Argentina to gain a degree in oenology. More than four decades on and the three-time president of Wines of Argentina is in no hurry to slow down, enlisting the help of daughter Ana Lovaglio to run her bodega.
Balbo and her daughter began a campaign to redefine the brand’s DNA in 2019. After three years, this rebrand takes the form of new brands, new wines, and changes to the bodega’s labels, to more clearly display the core ethos of the brand.
A version of Balbo’s signature has been present on the company’s label since 2013. As part of the rebrand, the mother-daughter team took the decision to start again from scratch, re-envisioning the logo as something more faithful to her handwriting.
“The signature is the most faithful expression of the personal stamp of its creator,” says daughter Ana Lovaglio, marketing manager at Susana Balbo, noting that the personal touch is an important part of reshaping their image.
“Susana Balbo is a family business that transformed an entire winery into a family,” she says. “We believe this ‘new found’ brand essence helps us to communicate with more clarity and precision who we are, what we do and why we do it.”
Lovaglio has been working with the bodega’s team to communicate the new brand image to consumers, through ads, wine fairs, and events, as well as digital and social media campaigns.
The Susana Balbo Signature wine labels have seen the biggest change, with “stains” giving the the feeling of an artist’s palette, evoking the artistic sense of winemaking, according to Lovaglio.
The most recent launches are the Susana Balbo Signature Limited Edition. This range includes a Malbec from Altamira, a torrontés from Gualtallary and the Torrontés de Raíz Naranjo – a new orange wine.
“My mother has a long history working with torrontés, and many people call her ‘the queen of torrontés’. We wanted to keep innovating with this particular grape and explore the trend of making orange wines,” Lovaglio says.
The wine, a limited edition release, was a “risk” for the bodega, Lovaglio says, made in a very traditional handmade method using amphora terracotta fermenters, to be sold at £39.
Outside of innovations in brand image, Balbo has been hard at work in other areas. She has just celebrated the opening of a hotel on her Argentinian estate, and announced a new UK distribution agreement with Enotria & Coe. We caught up with the winemaker to find out more about her recent movements and upcoming plans.
How did the new hotel come about, and what you are hoping to achieve with the site?
It was a decision I made alongside Ana, my daughter, when she decided to move. This was a beautiful property I already owned, with a garden of around 6,000 square metres. We wanted to do something unique, something that did not exist neither in Mendoza or in Argentina at the time. We decided to design a space that would allow people to visit a winemaker’s house and experience a moment of wellness through fully equipped rooms with spas, saunas, acclimatised showers, masterpieces from local artists and the best wines of Argentina.
This hotel combines high-end gastronomy, art and closeness to one of the main wine regions of the world, a formula that did not exist in Latin America. We want international visitors to discover Mendoza from a different point of view that merges culture, art and wines with a warm touch to host people as if they were coming to our own house.
How does your innovation and development in areas outside of wine have a positive effect on your company as a whole? Does it inspire you to do the same in your winemaking?
Investing and betting on areas that are not strictly related to wine but have strong bounds with it allows us to offer a unique experience to the thousands of visitors we get every year. Our goal is to provide people with 360° experiences by visiting our winery, having a meal at Osadía de Crear and then staying the night at our beautiful hotel.
These impacts also in our sense of innovation and exposes how we are always trying to reinvent ourselves, not only with wines but also with our tourism offer and more. For us it is very important that our clients from all around the world understand that we are always thinking in new ways of offering them something different, that reflects in a very sincere and loyal way our beautiful province and its huge potential.
At the same time, we are in a constant search of reflecting this potential in our wines, which are all produced in different regions of Mendoza, taking full advantage of what our great climate and mountains can offer.
Growth of the winery is being reflected in your stand at ProWein this year. What are you hoping to achieve at the fair?
We are very proud to have our first own stand. Although this is reflecting our growth, the main reason is to keep improving the quality of our time with current and potential partners. Our own space gives us the chance of having the necessary focus and better conditions to taste or introduce new vintages and innovations.
This fair, after almost three years without international events available, will be very particular. We are extremely happy to have the chance to meet again most of our clients, colleague and friends as well!
What does the partnership with Enotria & Coe mean to you, and how will this partnership help benefit your business in the long run?
Our partnership with Enotria & Coe is strategically important for us. The UK has always been a lighthouse market and success will provide a positive effect for our global markets, most notably in Europe. We are confident that this new cooperation will allow us to significantly increase our distribution and premium footprint as part of a coherent omnichannel strategy. Over time, this will raise the awareness and affinity levels of our brands with the UK premium wine consumer. As a family-owned winery, focused on the production of premium and super premium wines from Argentina, we consider this partnership as one of mutual benefit as we support the ongoing global trend of premiumisation.