The Argentinian Wine Tasting Safari You Access By Seaplane

One of Argentina's premier winemakers is taking the term "wine flight" to new heights with the opening of a luxurious wine-centric hotel that offers airborne excursions. Located in Chacras de Coria, about 20 minutes south of Mendoza, SB Winemaker's House & Spa Suites is the brainchild of Susana Balbo.

According to International Wine Review, Balbo began her career at Michel Torino, a historic Argentine winery established in 1892 by French brothers David and Salvador Michel, along with David's Italian wife Gabriela Torino, in Cafayate (via Univins and Spirits). She also worked alongside Nicolás Catena, a forward-thinking winemaker often credited with transforming the Argentine wine industry in the late 20th century, at Bodega Catena Zapata before founding Susana Balbo Wines in 1999.

Timing couldn't have been better. The opening of Balbo's winery coincided with what oenophiles call the Malbec Boom. Argentine winemakers like Balbo and Catena began looking beyond the country's borders, marketing to an international audience, in the early 2000s (via South America Wine Guide). Malbec, which is one of the major types of red wine you would ever need to know, garnered worldwide attention, ushering in a new chapter in the history of Argentina's wine industry — wine tourism. But with Mendoza's vineyards among the highest in the world, per Earth Trekkers, getting around efficiently requires advance planning — or maybe a private plane.

Make the connection to explore more of Argentina

While Malbec led the way in terms of putting Mendoza on the world wine map, the region is also gaining attention for its Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. According to Earth Trekkers, it takes at least two full days to experience the city's three wine regions: Maipu Valley, Luján de Cuyo, and Uco Valley. Susana Balbo Wines is located in Luján de Cuyo, per South America Wine Guide, a 20- to 30-minute drive from Balbo's new hotel.

Balbo's winery and SB Winemaker's House & Spa Suites are conveniently located within close range of one another, but other Mendoza wineries and notable Argentinian sights are further afield. That's where the hotel's private seaplane comes into play. The fully equipped aircraft is operated by Vision Air VIP, another Susana Balbo Family Group business, and has a seating capacity of six passengers, in addition to the flight crew (via Focus on Travel News). The unique safari service gives guests unparalleled access to day trips or short stints in remote outposts and wineries in San Raphael, Cafayate, Esteros del Iberá, and Patagonia. According to the luxury hotel's website, partner hotels for multi-day excursions include Colonial Wine Hotel in Cafayate — a well-known wine region located in Calchaqui Valley, per Wine Tourism – and an eco-lodge in Iberá National Park — a relatively new park that's just beginning to gain interest from international crowds (via CNN Travel).

Unsurpassed access and top-notch local wines

Sip world-class wines while taking in bird's-eye views of Mendoza's vineyards, mountains, and salt flats before touching down at a desert oasis for a custom-planned meal. Another junket includes a private flight over Patagonia with aquatic landings at Lago Escondido, Lake La Plata, Lake Pulmari, and Nahuel Huapi, followed by sophisticated wine and food tastings.

The Esteros Del Iberá outing is a multi-day tour into the remote reaches of Iberá National Park. That's a big deal in itself because, in the absence of the hotel's seaplane, access to the park — spanning 1.76 million acres together with the neighboring Iberá Provincial Park — is through a commercial flight and then a four-hour drive or multiple bus rides (via CNN Travel). SB Winemaker's House & Spa Suites' two- or three-night excursions in the park, which officially debuted in 2018, involve round-trip flights via private seaplane, accommodations and meals at an eco-lodge, and a private tour guide.

Another option lets you go full circle with a private flight back to where it all began in Cafayate, where host Balbo began her award-winning wine career. After flying over the Valley of the Calchaquíes, guests tuck into a meal showcasing traditional dishes and local wines. It's a back-to-roots itinerary in more ways than one.