All posts by Suze

In 2012, I escaped the practice of law in favor of writing full time. I am a entrepreneurial writer with a blog and a column in the Vail Daily detailing my behind the scenes experiential research in restaurant kitchens in Colorado and drawing on my near 2 decades living in Switzerland and extensive travel through Europe during that time, particularly Piemonte. Currently, I am also writing a book on the under discovered stories of the women of Piemonte, specifically the Langhe and Roero areas. I am also the Bailli of the Bailliage de Vail of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs and an officer of the Southwest Region of the Bailliage des Etats-Unis.

Buon Compleanno, Giacomo Oddero

Buon Compleanno, Giacomo Oddero! 

Giacomo Oddero and grandchildren Isabella Boffa Oddero and Pietro Viglino Oddero.
Giacomo Oddero with his  grandchildren Isabella Boffa Oddero (Maria Vittoria’s daughter) and Pietro Viglino Oddero (Mariacristina’s son). Photo Credit — Elisabetta Vacchetto

Friday, September 16, 2016, is the 90th birthday of one the wine world’s most precious gems, Giacomo Oddero, beloved patriarch of Barolo’s Poderi e Cantine Oddero. He served as a great inspiration for me as wrote Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of PiemonteNo doubt in his many years as a revered wine industry leader he has inspired many others.

I will be forever grateful to Giacomo Oddero, his daughters Maria Vittoria and Mariacristina, and granddaughter, Isabella, for the more than three hours they spent with me in May 2015, as they wove the story of the Oddero family through the centuries, and the many months of follow-up that lead to their chapter.

It was for Giacomo and his family, and all the other families who made Piemonte’s wine culture one of the greatest in the world that I wrote Labor of Love. Therefore, in honor of Giacomo and of his late wife, Carla, I am posting an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my bookThose who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him will gain some knowledge of the man, his region, and the women in his life. Those of you who do know Giacomo will no doubt smile and thank God such a man has walked the planet for so long.

Here’s to many more wonderful years of life to Giacomo Oddero!

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Carla Scanavino Oddero (1927–2003)

In the early 20th century, education was still not commonplace in the countryside, but Maria insisted her sons Giacomo and Luigi attend school in Alba. Luigi chose oenology at the famous Scuola di Enologica. Giacomo chose a classical education at the Liceo Classico, then studied chemistry and pharmacology at the University of Turin. To this day, Giacomo is known fondly for frequently quoting Shakespeare and the classics. His favorite writer is Alessandro Manzoni, the beloved 19th-century author of I Promessi Sposi, the most famous Italian novel of all time.

Maria Badellino Oddero, mother of Giacomo Oddero.
Maria Badellino Oddero, mother of Giacomo Oddero.

Cancer took Giovanni Oddero in 1951. Maria and her two sons continued to run the winery as Europe entered into a postwar era for the second time in less than 50 years. This time, unlike the decades when the Fascists ruled after World War I, the economy prospered. Giacomo remained heavily involved with the family business, marketing the wines and beginning his political activities. Luigi ran the vineyards and cellar. Together, they expanded their land holdings primarily in La Morra as they acquired coveted vineyards in the Barolo villages of Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, and Monforte d’Alba with help from yet another strong Oddero woman.

During their high school studies at the Liceo Classico of Alba, Giacomo met Carla Scanavino. Their shared interests brought them together and on the 19th of April 1953, they married. Carla, who died in 2003, was a determined woman with a brilliant mind, one of the first women of Alba to graduate from university. Carla had become a pharmacist in Alba, eventually buying the pharmacy where she worked. That clever acquisition led to many more crucial land acquisitions for the family when, through Carla’s hard work, the pharmacy became the funding mechanism of Oddero’s expansion. Her earnings funded an expanded cellar and acquisitions of more important crus that positioned the company for greatness.

Carla Scanavino Oddero, mother of Mariavittoria and Mariacristina.
Carla Scanavino Oddero, mother of Mariavittoria and Mariacristina.

Giacomo called the purchases of the most historically important and prestigious vineyards in the region Carla helped secure, “the greatest satisfaction I had in my life as a wine grower.” A particularly fond memory was their acquisition of the Vigna Rionda in Serralunga and Rocche di Castiglione vineyards. “I remember I went into the vineyards at night, all alone, to admire the land I had just bought, with no other light than the moonlight,” he recalled. “I was full of gratitude for the efforts we all made to put aside the money to buy these amazing pieces of land.”

Despite financing the real estate expansion, Carla’s name does not appear on any official ownership documents. It just wasn’t done in those days. The end of patriarchal inheritance, giving women full rights, did not occur until 1975. She is, however, very much a part of the winery’s story. “Our holdings today are only possible because of my grandmother,” Isabella explained. “Our riches happened after World War II as the result of Carla, Giacomo, and Luigi,” she said. Isabella is frustrated that despite her grandmother’s significant contributions in the expansion of Oddero winery, no one outside the family knows it. It’s the unsung heroines — like Luigia, Maria, and Carla — who inspired me to be their families’ scribe. It’s a pity the three women didn’t live to see their granddaughters, Cristina and Isabella, become internationally acclaimed winemakers. One thing is certain — their granddaughters and other wine women of the present generation know that without the courage, financial savvy, and wisdom of these long-departed women, their lives would be quite different today. Here in the Langhe, the women of the past will never be forgotten.

The Oddero women: Maria Vittoria (left), her daughter, Isabella, and sister Maria Cristina with proud patriarch Giacomo looking on. Photo Credit - Elisabetta Vacchetto
The Oddero women: Maria Vittoria (left), her daughter, Isabella, and sister Maria Cristina with proud patriarch Giacomo looking on.
Photo Credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto
Giacomo Oddero (1926)

The Oddero story is not only one of strong women whose boldness and wisdom made their families prosper, but one of its male heroes, too. Giacomo Oddero is among them. Everyone familiar with Italian wine is familiar with the classification system, particularly the acronyms “DOC” and “DOCG.” What isn’t as well known is Giacomo Oddero’s contribution to this system created to protect the integrity and quality of Italian wines. His intimate involvement in the landmark legislation was a moment of great personal satisfaction for him and great pride for the family.

In explaining to me the need for the classification system, Giacomo divided Piemonte’s post–World War II years into two phases. In the first phase, immediately after the war, people fled the countryside’s poverty for cities where industrialization took hold. Fiat, the car manufacturer in Turin, and Ferrero, the producer of heavenly chocolate confections in Alba, were two of the industrial magnets that drew many from the agrarian life their families had lived for generations. Giacomo Oddero and his younger brother Luigi were among the Piemontesi who possessed foresight about the area’s potential and remained in the Langhe.

At the time, wine production was mostly unregulated, leading to a crisis of confidence in the region’s most precious commodity, one that held the key to its economic viability. As the postwar economy improved, focus shifted to quality for both producers and consumers. From the implementation of a system that assured quality standards, farmers finally could benefit more from the results of their work. Slowly, step-by-step, they built a better life.

Giacomo Oddero and other “historical producers” including Giovanni Gaja from Barbaresco and Giovan Battista Rinaldi from Barolo were champions of quality and the integrity of their denomination’s wines. Before Giacomo began his five-year tenure as mayor of La Morra in 1965, he advocated for the adoption of laws to protect the Italian wine industry’s integrity, specifically Barolo. For nearly two years, Giacomo met with farmers most nights to explain the system’s importance to their industry. The farmers were concerned that it meant only more bureaucracy, but Giacomo convinced them that the proposed quality assurance laws meant protection for themselves and their consumers.

In 1963, Law 930 was enacted, creating the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC, or controlled designation of origin) system of strict rules governing the production of classified wines. That was a significant milestone in the history of the Italian wine industry, but it took several decades for the specific regulations for each DOC wine to be written. As the Cuneo and Asti regions’ vintner representative, Giacomo made frequent trips to Rome to meet with the Ministry of Agriculture, helping to craft the language of the new classification law as it pertained to Barolo.

By the early 1980s, industry leaders and government officials recognized the need for another, higher level of classification, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG, or controlled and guaranteed designation of origin). After producing a wine as a DOC wine for 10 years, producers could now apply for the DOCG, elevating the status of the wine with that one additional word “guaranteed.” Although some believe there are now too many DOCG wines, the philosophy is sound and its implementation was crucial in cementing Piemonte’s place on the world stage. From 1976 until 1992, Giacomo was president of the Cuneo Chamber of Commerce. During that time, he continued to help write specific regulations for other DOC wines of the region while continuing to champion quality and integrity in Barolo.

Giacomo is very proud of the system he helped create, ushering in what he calls the second postwar phase. He believes that the system built trust and halted the exodus of families and workers from the land. Farmers began returning to the hills, and the tide turned. Farmers who used to sell their grapes to negotiants, who in turn sold them to wineries, began producing wine under their own labels. This enabled them to send their kids to oenology school and travel the world to market their wines. “It was extremely important to the success of the region,” Giacomo said.

In 1985, Giacomo and other Langhe producers presented their wines for the first time at a wine expo in New York City. Giacomo laughed at how the French producers arrived with the French Minister of Agriculture on the Concorde, with the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” playing as they deplaned, while the Barolo producers had to scramble for posters of Verdi’s Aida to decorate their exposition. Although none of them spoke English, they succeeded in orchestrating a successful introduction of Barolo to the wine world, with Giacomo Oddero as a conductor. Beautiful wine like Barolo transcends language barriers. For Giacomo and many of his fellow Barolo vintners, it would be daughters, not sons, who would follow in their footsteps.

Oddero Women Crafting the Future

Cristina sees a bright future for Oddero and for the region. Looking back on the difficult years, the much-loved and respected Cristina Oddero reflected, “I feel good when I think about what I achieved after so many years of disagreements and difficulties I encountered on my way when I first approached business.” And her father is also happy to see his family strong, thanks to the indomitable spirit of its women. The winery will no doubt prosper under Cristina’s stewardship. She has the blood of Luigia, Maria, and Carla coursing through her veins.

Sisters Maria Vittoria (left) and Mariacristina Oddero.
Sisters Maria Vittoria (left) and Mariacristina Oddero. Photo Credit — Elisabetta Vacchetto

Giacomo shared his thoughts about the ascendance of women in the wine industry. His wise, soulful words beautifully captured all that I witnessed over my years in Piemonte, watching the transition from a male-dominated wine culture to one inclusive of Piemonte’s strong women. Giacomo is happy to see so many talented women working together with their fathers as they prepare to one day inherit their family’s wineries. “The relationship between women and the Langhe wine industry is a brand-new typology of relations. This is a more deliberate way of working, with greater sensitivity and better attention to details. And small details make huge differences when talking about wine. Wine needs to be treated gently and with patience. These are characteristics inside women’s nature.” Long before Giacomo Oddero was born, women helped secure the future of his family. The inspiration and guidance born of his own mother’s character that he gave his daughters and grandchildren created a strong bridge to the future for the women and men who now follow him.

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Patriarch of Poderi e Cantine Oddero, Giacomo Oddero. Photo Credit — Elisabetta Vacchetto
A granddaughter's love for her grandfather is like none other. Isabella Boffa Oddero with her beloved grandfather, Giacomo.
A granddaughter’s love for her grandfather is like none other. Isabella Boffa Oddero with her beloved grandfather, Giacomo.

SAN FRANCISCO – PIEMONTE: SHARE THE LOVE

SPREAD THE WORD!
SHARE THE LOVE!
POUR THE PIEMONTE WINE!

San Francisco, here we come!


Prima Vini e Ristorante
Walnut Creek, CA
Friday, September 9th
5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Enthusiastic audiences in Piemonte and Colorado have been enjoying my readings and discussions about my new book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, made more delightful by their connection with the families through the wine in their glass. 

Prima’s wine director and co-owner, John Rittmaster, has assembled an impressive line-up of visiting vinous royalty for a wine-book pairing aperitivo at this transcendental TGIF Piemontese experience.

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CALL FOR RESERVATIONS!
Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event
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San Francisco Wine School
San Francisco, CA
Sunday, September 11th
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Come join Master Sommelier David Glancy and me (Suzanne) for a Piemontese experience unlike any other available on the eastern shores of the Pacific.

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Award-winning wine writer Fred Swan, who is on the faculty at the school, has put together, has worked tirelessly to put together an amazing tasting list of 30 Piemonte wines from 12 different producers in the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato areas of this iconic Italian wine region.

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The program includes David Glancy’s guided tasting of four lovely Piemontese wines with my input vis-à-vis a reading and discussion about the book and the families. Afterward, enjoy a walk-around to taste the other 26 wines assembled for this celebration (which it truly is).

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You can reserve and pay online. Easy peasy! Books will be available for purchase and signing. This event is open to the public. A special, reduced rate applies for industry professionals.  

Expand Your Vinous Horizons!

Yes, I know California’s wine country cocoons San Francisco and that Cabernet Sauvignon, not Barolo, is king there. But even in Piemonte they enjoy other region’s wines, so why not grab this mind-expanding, oenological opportunity, join me in the City by the Bay on the 9th and 11th of September, and meet the visiting vinous royalty from Piemonte!

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Labor of Love Review – Gastronome Extra!

 

Another glowing review of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte! 

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Gastronome Extra

Gastronome Extra is the seasonal online magazine of the United States bailliage (chapter) of the international gastronomic society Chaine des Rotisseurs. The centuries old organization that King Louis IX — St. Louis — founded in 1248 as a guild of goose roasters is a premiere gastronomic organization that promotes culinary and oenological education and camaraderie at the table, something much-needed these days. From its inception, the Chaine served as a vehicle to develop and preserve culinary techniques.

The Chaine was resurrected in Paris in 1950 after two world wars that decimated the French food and wine industries, and a 200-year hiatus due to the French Revolution when guilds fell out of favor — an understatement. Today, the modern Chaine consists of over 25,000 passionate supporters of fine dining and protectors of the culinary arts in over 80 countries, including the United States.

The Review

The cover of Gastronome Extra’s summer issue features Elisabetta Vacchetto’s beautiful photo of Barolo living legend Chiara Boschis. Open up the magazine and on page 11 you’ll find a glowing review of my book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, the cover of which Chiara’s hands grace.

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Cover of Gastronome Extra! Photo credit — Elisabetta Vacchetto
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Labor of Love Cover Design by Cindi Yaklich (Epicenter Creative) and photos by Elisabetta Vacchetto and Pierangelo Vacchetto.

Note — one correction in the Gastronome Extra! article — we did not sell out the first printing. We had to reduce the first run by 1,000 books when we chose to print in Italy, so we ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund that 1,000. In less than three months since publication, we sold well over half of the first edition, a large number of books considering our constraints as an indie publisher, but it is incorrect to say we sold out the first edition. See the Labor of Love Kickstarter campaign for further details.  

Other Reviews of Labor of Love

Visit my Press & Reviews – Labor of Love page for more reviews of my book.

Share the Love — Spread the Word — Pour the Wine

The book and Labor of Love’s wine families will be the focus of several upcoming wine-book pairing events in California, Colorado, and Louisiana. These events will feature wines from the wine families in the book, foods of the region, and book reading and signing with a healthy dose of spirited conversation about this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.

September 9th — Prima Vini Ristorante, Walnut Creek, CA
September 11th — San Francisco Wine School, S. San Francisco, CA
September 23rd — Book Bar, Denver, CO
October 25th — Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen, New Orleans, LA
October 26th — Swirl Wine Bar & Market, New Orleans, LA

 

And more to come on the East Coast! Watch this space.

WINETWOFIVE: All in the Wine Family

 

All in the Wine Family

Valerie Caruso and Stephanie Davis, the wine educator brains behind the popular website and weekly podcast series WineTwoFive, graciously invited me to participate in this past week’s podcast they titled: All in the Wine Family (click to listen — preferably with a glass of Piemonte wine in hand!)

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They aired the podcast the morning of my author event at the energetic tea room with a vinous twist PlatformT in Glendale (Denver).

PlatformT in Glendale (Denver), CO.
PlatformT in Glendale (Denver), CO.

The tea room that also serves a wide variety of other libations such as coffee, wine, and spirits, and savory and sweet bites to pair with the drinks, is the brainchild of Law Brothers Group of Denver.

Every other Thursday, the bright gathering spot in a new commercial development on the corner of S. Colorado Blvd. and S. Cherry Creek Drive — just steps away from my old flat on Cherry Creek — becomes a venue for author events. It’s a small, intimate setting that allows authors the opportunity to connect with readers. I’m truly grateful to the Law Family for their dedication to supporting writers, particularly independent authors like me. 

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The bar served “Chapter 3” wines — Matteo Correggia — from Denver’s Giuliana Imports for their by-the-glass wine special: Roero Arneis and Roero Nebbiolo.

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We raised our glasses to Ornella Correggia and all the wonderful wine families across the world who toil to make the vinous creations we all enjoy. With that, I began my reading followed by an intriguing question and answer session and book signing.

Reading to my readers

During question and answer, the WineTwoFive ladies shared with the enthusiastic audience some of their thoughts on Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte. 

Valerie Caruso (left) and Stephanie Davis (right) with me at PlaformT.
Valerie Caruso (left) and Stephanie Davis (right) with me at PlatformT.

A great time was had by all, particularly me! Thank you, Jeremy, Ron, and Chris Law for your kind hospitality and to Naomi Boylan of the Law Brothers Group for organizing this special evening for me and my oenophile readers.

Thank you, Jeremy, Ron, and Chris Law for your kind hospitality and to Naomi Boylan of the Law Brothers Group for organizing this special evening for me to connect with my oenophile readers.

Next Event
Thursday, August 11th
Ridge Stree Wine/Breckenridge Cheese & Chocolate
Ridge Street Alley (near corner of Adams St. & Main St.)
Breckenridge, CO
6:00 p.m.
SEATING LIMITED!
RESERVATIONS ADVISED!
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Where to buy the book?

Wine Families Web Store — only availability of signed books online

Amazon

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LABOR OF LOVE WINE-BOOK PAIRING EVENTS!

 

Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte is touching the hearts and minds of not only oenophiles with a passion for Piemonte, but also people across the world who love great stories about courage, familial bonds, and history. And who doesn’t love Italian heritage and culture? A great way to celebrate these wonderful families than at a wine-book pairing event!  

Piemonte Celebrations! 

As my loyal followers know, we had a fabulous global world premiere of my book at Ca’ del Baio in Treiso (Barbaresco) with friends, family, local dignitaries, and, of course, the wine families, on June 2, 2016.

Signing vintner Giuliano Iuorio's book at Cà del Baio. What a thrill for me!
Signing vintner Giuliano Iuorio’s book at Cà del Baio. What a thrill for me!

We followed that event with a smaller, but equally emotional event at the Castello di Monticello on the 5th of June. Thank you, Contessa Elisa Roero di Monticello for your amazing hospitality and Eugenio and Pierangelo Vacchetto for organizing it! 

(L-R) Bruce and Claudia Kiely, Suzanne and Dani Hoffman, Susan and Rusty Richardson.
(L-R) Bruce and Claudia Kiely, Suzanne and Dani Hoffman, Susan and Rusty Richardson.
Introducing the USA to Labor of Love at Bookworm

The Bookworm in Edwards Riverwalk hosted the USA launch on July 7th. Nearly 70 people joined for the aperitivo featuring wines from Cà del Baio (Chapter Six), Matteo Correggia (Chapter Three), and Marsaglia (Chapter Seventeen) that Jarrett Osborn, owner of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits, poured.

Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits pouring a glass of Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Vallegrande for Dean Johnson.
Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits pouring a glass of Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Vallegrande for Dean Johnson.
Photo credit: Townsend Bessent
Photo credit: Townsend Bessent

It was appropriate that we would have this special event at Bookworm since I had spent so many hours there during the gestation of Labor of Love. The owner of this popular indie bookshop, Nicole Magistro, is a passionate supporter of independent authors and routinely provides venues for author events and launches for many indie books.

Nicole Magistro and Suzanne Hoffman. Photo credit: Townsend Bessent
Nicole Magistro and Suzanne Hoffman.
Photo credit: Townsend Bessent
Upcoming Events!

Labor of Love and the wines of its wine families pair beautifully for author events. We have lots of those coming soon!

Thursday, August 4th
6:00 p.m.
PlatformT
Glendale (Denver), Colorado

Books available at the event!

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Ridge Street Wine/Breckenridge Cheese & Chocolate
Breckenridge, CO
Thursday, August 11th
6:00 p.m. 

Books available at event!

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Prima Vini e Ristorante
Walnut Creek, CA
Friday, September 9th
5:30 p.m. reading followed by tasting of an awesome wine line up!

Books available at event!
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San Francisco Wine School
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, September 11th
2:00 p.m.
Details coming soon!

Book Bar
Denver, CO

Late September
Stay tuned for details!  

And more to come in Louisiana and Piemonte before the end of the year!
If you’d like to have me visit your town for a book-wine pairing event for your organization or at your local indie bookstore, email me at suzanne@winefamilies.com!
ARNEIS ASKS THAT YOU WATCH THIS SPACE!

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BOOK REVIEW: SASSI ITALY TOURS LOVES “LABOR OF LOVE!”

 

Read Sassi Italy Tours lovely review of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.

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You can then purchase your very own signed copy here on my website.

But first, enjoy this excerpt from the book?

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Chapter Three – Matteo Correggia

In March 2013, under gray skies with a drizzly fog
blanketing the earth,
I met Ornella Correggia.

I knew of her from her wines, and I knew her story. But I didn’t know her. As I gazed into her deep, warm brown eyes, a calm feeling washed over me. Time has deepened my conviction that an aura of tranquility and deep peace surrounds her and nurtures all in her universe. One cannot infer from the serene demeanor of the woman I know today how very tested Ornella has been.

Ornella Correggia and her daughter, Brigitta. Photo Credit: Carlo Avataneo
Ornella Correggia and her daughter, Brigitta. Photo Credit: Carlo Avataneo

In most Piemonte wine families, women ascend into the operation and management of family wineries by choice or, as in recent years, through inheritance. For the matriarch of the esteemed Roero winery Matteo Correggia, on the outskirts of Canale, cruel fate propelled her to the helm. Early in the evening on June 12, 2001, the untimely death of her husband, Matteo, shattered Ornella’s world. Tragedy not only destroys lives but shapes them, too. For Ornella, the sudden reversal of fortune called for her to summon courage she never knew she had to continue her husband’s legacy for her young children. Would they grow up to want the vintner’s life for themselves? No one knew. But Ornella was determined the family’s winery would be there for them if they chose to perpetuate their father’s legacy.

At 39, Matteo Correggia had already achieved global acclaim as a brilliant oenological visionary who saw Roero’s potential as a serious red wine producing region. Matteo was a shooting star, dazzling with his brilliance and vision, but unlike those that burn out, Matteo’s star continues to shine, thanks to Ornella.

Matteo Correggia. Photo credit: Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia
Matteo Correggia.
Photo credit: Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia

I never met Matteo, but I remember clearly the impact his death had on the region. The accidental death of a young man in his prime shook the close-knit Piemonte wine community to its core and reverberated across the globe. The year 2001 was one of shock and loss in the United States, leaving life forever changed. But three months before the events of that bluebird-sky day in New York in September 2001, the wine country in central Piemonte quaked with its own heartbreaking loss.

Matteo inherited the estate — already highly regarded for its bulk wines — from his father, Giovanni Battista Correggia, who died when Matteo was 23. Like his father, Matteo had a deep love for the vineyards, a love he shared with his mother, Severina, now over 80, who still is most at home among the vines. Like most of his contemporary vintners, Matteo believed the quality of his wines depended on vineyard health and the care given to the vines during the growing season. He was the only non-Barolo member of the young guns in Barolo known as the “Barolo Boys,” a group of young visionary vintners challenging time-honored traditions in the famous denomination. Like his comrades, Matteo gave more attention to vineyard management than had previous generations. He knew Roero could produce superior wines, but he believed the key to success lay more in the vineyards than even in the cantina. Caring for the soil was the task he was engaged in when fate struck its cruel blow.

In his homage to Matteo, journalist Sergio Miravalle describes the tragedy in his book, Matteo Correggia: La Cometa del Roero (Matteo Correggia: The Comet of Roero). Ornella gave me a copy of his book, in which she wrote a poignant message. I am in his debt for the following story.

(continued on page 49 of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte)

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Review of Suzanne Hoffman’s “Labor of Love”

 

Piemontephile, Tom Hyland, reviewed Suzanne Hoffman’s Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte on his excellent Italian wine-centric blog, Learn Italian Wines. 

Piemontese Women Have Their Say
Learn Italian Wines
by Tom Hyland

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I’ve read dozens of wine books over the past few decades. Most of these works are meant as reference guides, filled with facts and figures about vineyards, cellars, grape types and other such data. A few have been exceptional, but all have added to my education regarding wines from around the world.

Now though, a new book has come along that is just as valuable as those others, but instead of information on clones or how vineyards are planted, the focus of this book is on people, specifically women in the region of Piemonte, in Italy’s northwest. The book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, authored by Suzanne Hoffman, is not only a well-written, fascinating journey into this region’s history over the past hundred years or so, it’s also an engaging work that is quite refreshing, as it gives us a look at the individuals that make wine.

Hoffman, an attorney by trade, has been traveling to Piemonte with her husband for many years and slowly but surely, thanks in large part to the friendship of a Barbaresco producer, has been introduced to several local winemaking families. She tells the story of multiple generations of these families, with the focus on the women. One of the principal tenets of this book is that these women now have more visible duties as far as winemaking, sales and marketing, but the author points out that the women that made these wineries great along with their husbands, uncles and sons, had tremendous responsibilities in the past as well. Perhaps they weren’t doing any cellar work, but their behind the scenes labors were just as important some forty, fifty and seventy years ago.

A great example of how important women were to these firms can be found in the chapter on Cascina delle Rose, a small, traditional producer of stellar quality in Barbaresco. The current owner is Giovanna Rizzolio, an opinionated woman of fierce convictions (Hoffman labels her as “gregarious.”). In the family history that the author explores, it is Giovanna’s grandmother Beatrice Rizzolio that emerges as a strong influence, not only with her immediate family, but also with the community, as she would do others favors, such as lending money. As Hoffman points out, Beatrice did this with not with a written contract, but merely with “a handshake and meeting of eyes.” That was sufficient for Beatrice.

But there is more to this woman that simple favors for locals. Hoffman details her activities from 1943 to 1945, when the German army settled in the area. Beatrice stood up to these invaders, at one point putting herself in bodily harm, in order to protect a group of teenage boys. Stories such as these help give the reader insight into Beatrice and other strong women of Piemonte, which in turn help us understand the moral fiber of these people. Is it any wonder then why the local wines are so distinctive?

There are numerous stories of how local women stayed strong, as their decisions were needed. An example of this can be found in the chapter on the Poderi Oddero estate of Santa Maria, below the town of La Morra. The author notes that the Mariacristina Oddero, who learned about winemaking and terroir from her father as well as in her studies in Alba (she has a degree in vineyard management and taught classes on soil chemistry for several years), had to confront her uncle Luigi about the direction the winery would take – would it be bulk wine or improved quality through stricter work? The story is a fascinating one.

Hoffman writes about 22 wineries in Piemonte, ranging from famous Barolo producers , such as Giuseppe Rinaldi and Elio Altare, to lesser-known, but equally quality-minded firms such as Monchiero Carbone and Deltetto, both located in the Roero district. She has done a remarkable amount of research for this book, with most of it being sit-down interviews with the current generation of women, who took the time to narrate their family’s history to Hoffman. One telling remark comes from Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja, one of Piemonte’s and the world’s most famous vintners. The younger Gaja tells Hoffman that there is not a competition between fathers and daughters, as there might be with fathers and sons. “It is about open love, sharing knowledge and passing it on to the next generation,” she remarks.

There are more than two hundred, full-color photos in the book, along with a few dozen vintage black and white images. The photos are excellent and how gracious of the author to take the space at the end of the book to credit the local photographers.

All in all, here is a book that was written by an outsider, an outsider in name only. After reading Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, you would swear that Suzanne Hoffman is someone that has been living in Piemonte for years. In reality then, she has become an insider. All of us who love the wines of Piemonte should read this book, if only to understand that these singular wines are great not only because of decades of work in the vineyards, but also the determination of these people as they present wines that represent their traditions, their heritage and their anima – their soul.

Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte / USD $55 / Euro 50

For further information or to order, please send an email to Suzanne Hoffman at:

suzanne@winefamilies.com

PUBLISHED BY
tom hyland
I am a freelance wine writer and photographer specializing in the wines of Italy. I live in Chicago and recently completed my 65th trip to Italy. I have visited virtually every region in the country and am constantly amazed at the wonderful variety of wines produced from indigenous grapes (I am never amazed at the quality of the wines!). I have been in the wine business for 35 years, have been writing for 17 years and have been a professional photographer for the past eight years. I currently contribute to publications such as Decanter and wine-searcher.com. I am a freelance photographer for Cephas Picture Library in England and have had my photos published in the publications above plus several more. View all posts by tom hyland 

Look for Tom’s latest book out in August 2016:

Hyland, Tom. The Wines and Foods of Piemonte. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016

LABOR OF LOVE: ENCHANTING READERS EVERYWHERE!

So what has been happening with Labor of Love?
Short answer: A LOT – BOOK LAUNCH!

Mi dispiace! A great deal has been happening and I’ve been quite remiss in updating my blog for my loyal followers. I’m thrilled to say, it’s all been good and getting better for me and for Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.

Kicking Off Second Printing with Kickstarter

In April 2016, we were wildly successful with our Kickstarter campaign to raise capital for a second printing of the “opera” dedicated to the wine families of Piemonte.

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From Padua with Love

That same month, the Italian shipment of books arrived at Cà del Baio in Treiso (Barbaresco) from Verona Libri’s bindery in Padua in preparation for the June 2nd world premiere of the book.

Case label

Sneak Peek and Love in the Press

Then came a raid on the books stored at Cà del Baio when several Langhe Ladies seized the opportunity to give journalists at Nebbiolo Prima 2016 a sneak peek of Labor of Love. Journalists weren’t the only ones seeing Labor of Love for the first time. As you can see from the video of Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis presenting the book, the Langhe Ladies enjoyed their little public relations coup.

Girl power in Alba during Nebbiolo Prima
Girl power in Alba during Nebbiolo Prima

The word was out and soon the local press was telling everyone about the book and the American woman who wrote it.

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La Repubblica
La Repubblica, June 1, 2016, by Fabiola Palmeri.
“Rehearsal” Supper at Ristorante il Centro

The Cordero family provided me with a gastronomic retreat from the heat and the hectic pace of interviews over the three-year odyssey to research Labor of Love. It seemed fitting that their restaurant in the Roero town of Priocca d’Alba would be the venue for our gathering of out of town friends and family the night before the book launch at Cà del Baio, not unlike the rehearsal celebration the night before a wedding.

Since I was like a deer caught in the headlights and not focusing on photography or notes that night, I am grateful to Claudia Kiely for her photographs she shared with me and to Keith Edwards and his wife, Parlo, for being attentive guests who help record the evening’s food, wine, and images. Check out Keith’s lovely post on his blog, Mise en Abyme. 

Ristorante il Centro in the center of the Roero town of Priocca d'Alba.
Ristorante il Centro in the center of the Roero town of Priocca d’Alba.
Elide Cordero, chef and co-owner of Il Centro.
Elide Cordero, chef and co-owner of Il Centro.
Stairs to one of the most intriguing restaurant wine cellars in Roero.
Stairs to one of the most intriguing restaurant wine cellars in Roero for our aperitivo.
Il Centro wine cellar.
Il Centro wine cellar.
Marchesi di Grésy cellar master, Jeffrey Chilcott, sharing his vast knowledge of Piemonte and its wine and food with Rusty and Susan Richardson and Bruce Kiely.
Marchesi di Grésy cellar master, Jeffrey Chilcott, sharing his vast knowledge of Piemonte and its wine and food with Rusty and Susan Richardson and Bruce Kiely.
Smoked sturgeon with tarragon and anchovy sauce.
Smoked sturgeon with tarragon and anchovy sauce.
Veal leg with cooked under salt served with a dollop of Cavour sauce
Veal leg with cooked under salt served with a dollop of Cavour sauce
Lumache (snails)
Lumache (snails)
Not a snail person? No problem. There was a delicious quail dish as an option. I had snails!
Not a snail person? No problem. There was a delicious quail dish as an option. I had snails!
Ravioli stuffed with pork ribs
Ravioli stuffed with pork rib meat.
Oven roasted lamb shank
Oven roasted lamb shank
Mascarpone cream with coffee gelato
Mascarpone cream with coffee gelato

Of course, I couldn’t let the evening go by without presenting dear Elide with a copy of my book.

Giampiero, Elide, and Enrico Cordero with Suzanne after yet another gastronomic feast at il Centro.
Giampiero, Elide, and Enrico Cordero with Suzanne after yet another gastronomic feast at il Centro.
Launching “Labor of Love” into the World

Finally came the world premiere of Labor of Love at Cà del Baio in Treiso on June 2, 2016. Rain failed to dampen everyone’s spirits. In fact, the inclement weather necessitated a change in the seating arrangement to a “theatre in the round.” It was an intimate setting for an emotional presentation.

Members of 20 of the Labor of Love families, other wine producers, friends, dignitaries, and our guests from America, Israel, and Switzerland, including my editor Elatia Harris (whom I was meeting for the first time ever), gathered around, protected from the rain. Wine producer, historian, and author Maurizio Rosso of Cantina Gigi Rosso introduced the book in Italian. With her own wit and infectious laugh, my dear friend and Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis translated for the Anglophone guests in the audience.

I began by introducing Alberto di Grésy, proprietor of the highly respected Barbaresco winery Marchesi di Grésy whose words are the first of the book:

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Suzanne e altri
Suzanne Hoffman with Labor of Love photographer Pierangelo Vacchetto (center) and Alberto di Grésy of the Barbaresco winery Marchesi di Grésy (and that’s dear, sweet Aunt Angela Scavino speaking with Silvia Altare on the left).

Then, fighting the emotion that had been building for three years, I introduced each of the 22 families. I’m told there were no dry eyes in the audience.

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Teresa Vacchetto, Suzanne Hoffman, Pierangelo Vacchetto, and Maurizio Rosso of Cantina Gigi Rosso at the launch of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.
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Suzanne Hoffman (right) with my trusted translator, Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis, listening intently to Maurizio Rosso’s introduction at the launch of Labor of Love.
Signing vintner Giuliano Iuorio's book at Cà del Baio. What a thrill for me!
Signing vintner Giuliano Iuorio’s book at Cà del Baio. What a thrill for me!
Labor of Love at Castello di Monticello

Three days later on June 5th, at the Castello di Monticello in Roero, was the subject of an interesting panel discussion that focused on my motivation to write the book, why I chose these particular families, and, oddly enough, which wines from the region are my favorite. I’ll save that answer for another post! The Labor of Love photographic family trio of Pierangelo Vacchetto and two of his children Elisabetta and Eugenio, organized the event in the historic landmark.

Contessa Elisa Roero di Monticello graciously hosted us with Silvio Artusio Comba, mayor of Monticello, Giancarlo Montaldo, Carlo Passone, and my dear friend and translator for the event, Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis for the panel discussion about Labor of Love. 

ROERO EVENT

Castello di Monticello, ancestral home of the aristocratic Roero family.
Castello di Monticello, ancestral home of the aristocratic Roero family.

Once again, many of the wine families in Labor of Love attended to lend their support. Now all 22 had shown their enthusiastic support of the book at an event.

Contessa Elisa
(L-R) Silvio Artusio Comba, mayor of Monticello, Suzanne Hoffman, Contessa Elisa Roero di Monticello, and Labor of Love photographer Pierangelo Vacchetto.
Barolo vintner, dear friend, and excellent translator Chiara Boschis and Suzanne.
Barolo vintner, dear friend, and excellent translator Chiara Boschis and Suzanne.
(L-R) Bruce and Claudia Kiely, Suzanne and Dani Hoffman, Susan and Rusty Richardson.
(L-R) Bruce and Claudia Kiely, Suzanne and Dani Hoffman, Susan and Rusty Richardson.
Saying Good-Bye

Of course, I couldn’t say good-bye to the ladies of Labor of Love without our traditional feast together. This year, the ladies took Dani and me to the La Morra dining oasis Ristorante Bovio. 

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(Back Row: L-R) Maria Teresa Mascarello, Marina Macarino, Elisa Scavino, Daniela Rocca, Isabella Oddero, Francesca Vaira, Silvia Altare, and on the front row, Marta Rinaldi and Suzanne.
Labor of Love Comes to America

Soon it was time to head back to the United States to receive the shipment of 1,200 books from Verona Libri and to launch Labor of Love in the United States.

Almost there...
Almost there…
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Holding the baby!
Welcome to Colorado, Labor of Love!
Welcome to Colorado, Labor of Love!

I wasted no time in delivering books to the Bookworm of Edwards, the venue for the U.S. launch, and giving the very first book out of the U.S. shipment to Alisha and Giuseppe Bosco. Alisha has three photos credited in the book and she and Giuseppe have been incredibly supportive throughout my labor of love odyssey.

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Alisha and Giuseppe Bosco with Suzanne Hoffman (center) at Zino Ristorante in Edwards.
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Cafe and independent bookstore The Bookworm of Edwards – first delivery and venue of Labor of Love’s USA launch on July 7th, 2016.
Sending Labor of Love to Kickstarter backers!
Sending Labor of Love to Kickstarter backers!
Reviews!

Elisa Pesce who writes the delightful blog Uncorkventional attended the launch in Treiso. About three weeks later I discovered her beautiful post that gave me a chance to relive that emotional day when the wine families of Labor of Love experienced the book for the first time.

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Thank you, Elisa, for this lovely ending to your post:

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One of the biggest challenges for independent authors is getting their books on the radar of journalists to review it. Fortunately,   Giancarlo Montaldo witnessed firsthand the love the families of Labor of Love had for the book and he published my first newspaper review — a lovely, positive one — in the Gazzetta d’Alba.

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So who will be next to review my opera?

What’s Next? LAUNCHING IN AMERICA!

The Bookworm in Edwards, a vibrant independent bookstore and cafe in the Riverwalk complex along the Eagle River, frequently hosts author events. They are very welcoming and supportive of new authors, particularly those from Colorado. They graciously invited me to present Labor of Love for the first time in the United States on Thursday, July 7th.

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And more events to come in Denver, San Francisco, and beyond!

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Where can I find Labor of Love?

Labor of Love will be available at the Bookworm in Edwards, through many wine shops and restaurants, and in August, Amazon. To find out how you can obtain this groundbreaking book the Piemontese wine families have embraced, contact Suzanne Hoffman at suzanne@winefamilies.com.

Window of Zanoletti bookstore in Alba, Italy.
Window of Zanoletti bookstore in Alba, Italy.

APPROACHING KICKSTARTER SUCCESS!

Kickstarter has Six Days to Go!

Jennifer Martin who writes the always-informative Italian wine travel blog, VinoTravelsItaly.com, graciously posted an interview she recently conducted with me regarding my labor of love. We’re so close to crossing my Kickstarter campaign’s funding goal line and then some — and I am so grateful to my backers for their generous support – but pledges are still needed to change to 97% to 100%!

Click here to read my interview: Suzanne Speaks of her Labor of Love 
Girl power in Alba during Nebbiolo Prima
Girl power in Alba during Nebbiolo Prima