Adapting to COVID-19: New protocols at Susana Balbo Wines

Since March 14, before mandatory isolation was declared in Argentina, the winery took measures against the incipient pandemic. One of the greatest efforts was that of a group of volunteers who quarantined inside the winery in order to finish the 2020 harvest.

Mendoza, June 2020.- The first cases of COVID-19 arrived in Argentina in the middle of the harvest season. Following national, international and company-specific protocols, Susana Balbo Wines started mid-March to implement safety and hygiene measures to protect the team, as well as visitors and suppliers. The great effort of all those who are part of the winery is already paying off with an excellent harvest that we will soon enjoy with a great toast.

The first measure implemented was closing tourism on March 14 and so the tourism and Osadía de Crear restaurant teams began quarantining at home. On March 17, the same applied to the administration team, and then on March 20, when the national government announced the mandatory isolation in Argentina, the activities of the production and warehouse areas were also suspended to comply with the isolation.

In Argentina, viticulture is considered an essential activity and, therefore, from the beginning it was exempt from mandatory isolation. However, in Susana Balbo Wines, an exemplary group of fifteen volunteers, including the first winemaker Gustavo Bertagna, offered to quarantine at the winery in order to finish harvest and make sure that, despite the situation, we can have and enjoy amazing wines, with the highest quality that the winery offers.

After three weeks, and once the harvest was finished, this team returned to their homes and families, with fun anecdotes and a whole team, lead by Susana, supporting them and deeply appreciating their efforts. At all times during this period, the administration and tourism teams continued to work from their homes, with creativity, commitment and the will to ensure that all activities continue as normally as possible.

By early April, after updating all the necessary hygiene and health protocols to be able to resume activities, the enology and production teams could go back to the winery. The teams were divided into groups to cover weekly shifts, and adapted their tasks to social distancing, new hygiene standards, and wearing masks and other materials for their protection.

Finally, in early June, the government of the province of Mendoza allowed gastronomic venues to reopen and a few days later, it allowed local tourism, meaning that Mendocineans could visit other places within Mendoza. Following the prevention protocol against COVID-19, Osadía de Crear, the winery restaurant, was able to open again on June 12, putting into practice the new rules of social distancing to provide a pleasant and safe experience for visitors.

Claudia Ortiz, head of tourism at the winery, explained: “in addition to disinfecting the shoes and receiving our guests with alcohol gel, the cutlery is wrapped in plastic to guarantee that it will only be touched by the person eating with it. Guests can also see how the whole table has been sanitized”. Ortiz also explains, “We also have signs all over the restaurant with the full protocol explained, so that neither servers nor diners make any mistakes.”

Since the beginning of this particular situation, the Susana Balbo Wines’ Quality department, led by Carina Daguerre, has been working hard to improve week after week the precautionary measures and the internal processes, and has adapted them as the national and provincial governments have been making the conditions of isolation more flexible to make sure the winery’s teams, suppliers and visitors are safe at all times.