Tag Archives: wine

Intersections of Joy and Grief in Piemonte


Much has happened in Piemonte in the two intervening years since I sent the last edits of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte into cyberspace to Verona in April 2016. Over 720 sun-
rises and sunsets. The designation of the vineyard landscape of Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014  helped stimulate growth of the region’s already robust wine tourism. An iconic winery changed hands and Barolo’s Nebbiolo vineyard prices continued on a flight path to the stratosphere. And there were changes within the wine families that were intersections of joy and grief.

Sunrises. Sunsets.

Several Labor of Love families, such as Oddero (Barolo) and Marenco (Monferrato), gave life to new generations. Others, such as Sophie and Giuseppe Vaira of G. D. Vajra (Barolo), continued to add to the generation that began with the birth of their first child in spring 2013.

Sadly, some families had to say good-bye to remaining members of the generation that I call “Piemonte’s Greatest Generation,” the one that bridged the painful past of poverty, fascism, and Nazi occupation with the current era of great success and prosperity. These passings in Piemonte were painful.

In summer 2017, we lost one of Barolo’s most beloved and revered vintners — an authentic Barolo Boy —  Domenico Clerico. Unlike his older brethren who left us recently, he was a post-war child. Domenico, who always reminded me a bit of Shakespeare’s Puck, inspired and taught many younger producers who are now a part of Barolo’s great success story. The new year was only a few weeks old when Langhe legend Bruno Giacosa passed away. Grief touched three of my Labor of Love families with the passing of Roero pioneer Carlo “Carlin” Deltetto in August 2017 (see earlier post), Albino
Rocca in September 2017, and most recently, Fiorentina Grasso of Cà del Baio.

Nightfall in the Langhe.
Photo Credit: Pierangelo Vacchetto
Albino Rocca (1924-2017)

In 2017, in the midst of one of the most challenging harvests in memory, the three sisters of the Albino Rocca winery – Daniela, Monica,  and  Paola – bade a sad  farewell to their  beloved  nonno  Albino. In his 93 years he had witnessed the violence that engulfed the region in between 1943 and early 1945. He had felt the heartbreak of untimely loss of a young brother during World War II, then in the span of three years, his wife, his daugher, and, in October 2012, his son, Angelo. But in his final years, he also witnessed with pride and joy his three granddaughters and Paola’s husband, Carlo Castellengo, following ably in Angelo’s footsteps following his untimely death. Albino was there for them through four vintages without their iconic vintner father. He saw them awarded the Gambero Rosso’s coveted Tre Bicchieri for their 2013 Barbaresco Angelo from their first vintage without any earthly guidance from the wine’s namesake. Albino gave them love and provided guidance as they assumed control of the winery bearing his name that he had created decades before.

The Rocca Sisters, Carlo Castellengo, and Rocca family patriarch, their nonno Albino. Photo credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto.
Fiorentina Cortese Grasso (1933-2018)

Further down the road on the outskirts of another Barbaresco village, Treiso, on April 15, 2018, grief descended upon Giulio Grasso, his sister Franca, and their families. Fiorentina Cortese Grasso, beloved wife of the late Ernesto Grasso and final member of the oldest of four generations at Cà del Baio, passed away peacefully at home after a painful struggle with ill health. It would be just  like nonna Fiorentina to wait for the return from a business trip abroad of her oldest child’s oldest child, Paola, before she closed her eyes for the last time. Such was her grit and determination. What a gift to Paola to be able to say “good-bye.” The melancholy expression on Giulio’s face in a photo with his three daughters at Vinitaly days after her passing told the story of the deep sadness that has blanketed the family. But life goes on at Cà del Baio, as it always has. And that’s how nonna Fiorentina would want it to be. The product of Fiorentina and  Ernesto’s labor of love  is in good  hands with  Giulio, his  wife Luciana, and their three daughters, Paola, Valentina, and Federica. I will certainly miss seeing her at lunch in Cà del Baio, but like all Piemonte wine family matriarchs, her presence will be felt for a long time to come.

Generational bookends: Ernesto and Fiorentina Grasso with Lidia Deltetto, their great-granddaughter, the first of a new generation.

I know in coming years there will be more end-dates — more sunsets on long, productive lives —  that will have to be added to the 22
genealogies in Labor of Love. Although I will grieve over having to note more departures, I will take heart that these wonderful matriarchs and patriarchs trusted me with their stories so that those whose names I will add to the genealogies will always feel a connection with their deep roots in the Piemontese soil. Each sunset  shall be followed by a new dawn and new life on the land.

In honor of Albino Rocca and Fiorentina Grasso, in the coming posts I will share excerpts of their stories from Labor of Love.


“Beyond the Bottle” with Chiara Boschis

Vail Symposium goes beyond the bottle
with the Chiara Boschis

Suzanne Hoffman, author of award-winning “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte,” will moderate the event
VAIL, Colo. – June 30, 2017 – There are few liquids more complex than wine. Each bottle of wine is unique, reflecting the terroir in which it was grown, the process in which it was made and the people who watched over it every step of the way. On Tuesday, July 11, guests will be able to go beyond the story that is told on the wine label and hear, firsthand, from Chiara Boschis, one of the Piemonte’s region’s most fascinating winemakers.
Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis holding Nebbiolo must after another successful harvest in 2015.
Photo credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto

Barolo winemaker Chiara Boschis’ family history is as deep and rich as the soil in which her grapes grow. It includes a riveting story involving the German occupation of Piemonte, Italy during World War II and, later, the exchange of young prisoners from Barolo for an entire vintage of a precious wine.

Suzanne Hoffman, author of award-winning Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, has come to know Boschis well through the writing of her book and her visits to the region. As Hoffman leads the conversation, Boschis will talk about the deep history of her family, her winery and her own growth as a farmer, a defender of nature, a winemaker and a daughter. This is a rare opportunity to have a very personalized interaction with one of the leading vintners in the world.

Chiara Boschis at the monastery of San Magno in Castelmagno, Piemonte, Italy.

“Personally, I want people to see a real winemaker, a farmer as she delights in saying, not a pop culture version that we see on TV and in magazines,” Hoffman said. “I want people to hear directly from this vibrant, passionate woman what it takes to balance the demands of the global wine market, which means traveling frequently and also welcoming clients to Barolo; the day-to-day operations of the winery cellar and the vineyards and the job she loves the most, caring for her 90-year-old father, revered Barolo vintner, Franco Boschis.”

Chiara Boschis with brother and her winery partner, Giorgio Boschis, and their beloved father, retired Borgogno vintner, Franco Boschis. Photo credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto

Boschis is widely recognized as one of the first women producers in Barolo, although she comes from eight generations of winemakers. In 1981, the Boschis family acquired the E. Pira e Figli estate, occupying some of the most prestigious land in Barolo. In 1990, Chiara Boschis took over the operation on her own, bringing dedication, charm, patience and determination to every aspect of production in order to raise the quality and image of the winery to that which it enjoys today. In 2010, her younger brother Giorgio joined her, contributing a wealth of experience both in the vineyards as well as in the cellar.

Sister and brother team, Chiara and Giorgio Boschis, of E. Pira e Figli in Barolo. Photo Credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto

“My goal is to introduce Chiara through my Q&A with her, but then to open up the floor for questions from the audience,” Hoffman said. “She can talk the legs off a coffee table — people hang on to every word she says — and she will love interacting with the audience. People will not want this to end. I also want people to leave with a deep appreciation of the hard work and manual labor that goes into producing a bottle of wine.”

As a winemaker, Boschis is a master of balance, crafting finessed and sophisticated wines that are some of the most aromatically dynamic expressions of Barolo today. But she is a farmer first, dedicating herself to the philosophy that quality begins in the vineyard where her impact on the environment is greatest.

The long, hot growing season of 2015 ends with Chiara Boschis and her team harvesting her Nebbiolo to make her world renowned Barolo. Photo Credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto

“This program provides a wonderful opportunity for our community to get up close and personal with Chiara and hear her story,” said Kris Sabel, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “So often these events are wine tasting dinners which, while satisfying, can be quite expensive and focus more on the individual wines and food pairings than on the personal story of the winemaker, her love of the land and history of the people who have been creating amazing wine for centuries.”

Chiara Boschis and Suzanne Hoffman at Ca’ del Baio for the launch of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.” Photo credit: Pierangelo Vacchetto

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and feature a reception where attendees can purchase and sample Boschis’s wine. After the program, Boschis and Hoffman will be signing copies of Hoffman’s award-winning book, “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte” will be on sale at a special price of $48 (regular retail price is $55) plus tax with $5 of every purchase benefitting the Vail Symposium.

If you go…

What: Beyond the Bottle

With: Barolo winemaker Chiara Boschis; moderated by Suzanne Hoffman, author of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte”

Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel | Edwards

When: Tuesday, July 11, 2017. 6:30 p.m. doors open, 7 p.m. presentation

Cost: $25 online before 2 p.m. on the day of the event, $35 at the door, $10 students and teachers

More info: Visit www.VailSymposium.org or call 970.476.0954 to register. Attendees should utilize public parking structures. Summer parking is free in the Vail and Lionshead parking structures.

# # #

About Vail Symposium

Over the past 45 years, the Vail Symposium has touched thousands of lives with its rich and varied history. Created in 1971, the Symposium was conceived by community leaders to create ideas and goals, attracting not only the majority of townsfolk but also policy shapers from across the state and nation. Throughout the years we have diversified and expanded our scope with a dedication to education and cultural programs which provide lifelong learning opportunities for everyone who lives in or visits our community. The Vail Symposium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Media Contact:
Katie Coakley

Suzanne’s note:

Chiara’s wine’s from E. Pira e Figli can be found in Colorado through Giuliana Imports of Denver. In Vail Valley, Jarrett Osborne of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards carries a great selection of Piemontese wines, including Chiara’s, and can obtain whatever is in the Giuliana Imports’ portfolio.

Elisabetta Vacchetto’s photo of Chiara Boschis, that became the centerpiece of the cover of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.”



Labor of Love Review – Gastronome Extra!


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


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.

Cover of Gastronome Extra! Photo credit — Elisabetta Vacchetto
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. 


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.
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Where to buy the book?

Wine Families Web Store — only availability of signed books online


LOL_Cover_Print - Hi rez jpeg



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.
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!

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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?

LOL_Cover_Print - Hi rez jpeg

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)


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

LOL_Cover_Print - Hi rez jpeg

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:


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

My Piemontese Labor of Love Journey

I’d like to introduce you to my three-year Piemontese labor of love due to be released at Cà del Baio in Barbaresco, Italy on June, 2, 2016.

Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte
Suzanne Hoffman

A groundbreaking book about generations of inspiring
women in 22 Piemontese wine families coming
into their own as vintners and leaders

LOL_Cover_Print - Hi rez jpegCiao!

I am Suzanne Hoffman, the author Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, a book unlike any ever written about wine families. I tell the hidden stories of the women of 22 wine families rooted for generations in the Italian wine region of Piemonte. Whether famous the world over or known only within Italy, each family is rich in history. Wine family women in Piemonte are stepping out of the shadows as owners and vintners, undreamt of a generation ago. And how that came to be is a story I have held in sacred trust…until now.

Who am I to write this book? 

I love food. I adore wine. I am Sicilian on my mother’s side. I was born and raised in the rich gastronomic culture of south Louisiana as a member of the third generation of a vibrant, loving Sicilian family of immigrants. Being Sicilian means knowing and craving tradition – in wine, in food, and in anything to do with the family. From the moment I first set foot in Italy in 1975, I’ve been on a very natural path to becoming a wine family expert. It has taken many years.

My gramma, Frances Castrogiovanni Manale, and my mom, Gloria Manale LeBlanc. Both women are gone, but continue to live in my soul.
My gramma, Frances Castrogiovanni Manale, and my mom, Gloria Manale LeBlanc. Both women are gone, but continue to live in my soul.

“With her sensibility and passion, Suzanne has slowly come ever closer to our culture and has absorbed its intimate values. Only the completion of this wonderful book will contribute to the legacy of female culture in the millennia-long history of Italian civilization.
~ Maurizio Rosso, author, historian, and owner, Cantina Gigi Rosso (Barolo)

It could have been an opera; it could have been a novel…

I lived and worked in Switzerland for 20 years. Traveling the short distance to the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato regions of Piemonte pulled me into another world that I instinctively understood and felt as though I belonged to. I heard stories drawing me into an immense 19th century novel of sacrifice, joy, loss, and triumph.

The lives of these families – some aristocratic, some rising from abject poverty – were worthy of great Italian opera plots. All the while I was witnessing a tremendously moving process – an agrarian society coping with seismic change.

The shedding of societal norms that kept women in the shadows – queens in their houses, but serfs in the wineries and vineyards – meant that wine family women could now share control of their families’ patrimonies, and take a firm hand in shaping their own destinies. Daughters began to take the reins of some of the most famous wine brands in the region, unimaginable only a few decades ago. To see an entire generation of women rapidly striding into the forecourt of the region’s lifeblood industry awed me.

Oh, my – I felt such urgency to tell the story of this transformation, and to tell it as the wine families themselves experienced it. Time was of the essence. Many patriarchs and matriarchs were approaching their 90th year. Would I tell their stories in time for them to read the book?

Who are my wine families? 

I chose 22 diverse wine families for my book, plus the most famous wine family woman of all, the blessed 19th-century vintner, Giulia Colbert Falletti, Marchesa di Barolo.

Young Giulia Colbert Falletti, Marchesa di Barolo
Young Giulia Colbert Falletti, Marchesa di Barolo

The first wine family women to inspire me to write Labor of Love were Giovanna Rizzolio of Cascina delle Rose in Barbaresco, and her late grandmother Beatrice Rizzolio. The stories of many other women and their families soon captivated me. You can see why they are special.

  • Beatrice Rizzolio faced down Nazis during the German occupation and is memorialized in the garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Yet few, outside the family know of her heroism. I happened to see photos of her in various stages of her life, and asked for the story of the woman with infinite gravitas. That’s how I came to know her. This was a woman who never had a moment’s trouble knowing the right thing to do, even when doing it might have cost her everything.

    Memorial wall in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.
    Memorial wall in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.
  • Beatrice’s granddaughter Giovanna Rizzolio overcame societal scorn as she, a single woman, struggled to build a successful winery in her family’s ancestral country house in Barbaresco. She was alone, she had few allies, and many saboteurs. Her wine is internationally recognized and her life has blossomed as she never thought it would.

    Proprietress of Cascina delle Rose in Barbaresco, Giovanna Rizzolio.
    Proprietress of Cascina delle Rose in Barbaresco, Giovanna Rizzolio. Photo credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto
  • To the west in Barolo, the very young Chiara Boschis convinced her father to purchase a winery after a centuries-old farming family ran out of male heirs in 1981. Today, the gutsy, beloved woman who never spent a day as an oenology student is one of Barolo’s most notable winemakers – male or female.

    At home in the tasting room of Chiara Boschis, E. Pira e Figli, in Barolo, Italy.
    At home in the tasting room of Chiara Boschis, E. Pira e Figli, in Barolo, Italy.

Isabella Oddero of Poderi e Cantine Oddero originally chose a career in international marketing, far away from her family’s generations-old winery in Barolo.

Isabella Boffa Oddero with her beloved grandfather and Barolo icon Giacomo Oddero.
Isabella Boffa Oddero with her beloved grandfather and Barolo icon Giacomo Oddero.

But the deep instinct that keeps Piemontese families together brought her back to help save and contribute to the patrimony that generations of her grandmothers had helped to create. Family, wine, land: the youngest, like Isabella, hear the call as plainly as their ancestors did.

These women, their Piemontese sisters — and the men and children in their lives — are real people who want you to know where they came from and who they are. What began as a modest effort to write about the families I knew best exploded into an odyssey of over 200 hours of interviews and countless email exchanges with members of 22 families. I was given access to private histories, family photos, and I was given trust – most precious of all.

“This book IS a labor of love, for the author and her subjects. You can sense it on every page. But most of all, this book records the spirit of what fuels wine. It’s an essential contribution that helps to fill the gaps in the history of wine. It’s essential, especially, for those of us who love what wine brings to our lives.”
~ Cathy Huyghe, wine industry journalist and author of “Hungry for Wine: Seeing the World Through the Lens of a Wine Glass”

“Thank you for your incredible work. I can really feel your love for the story of our region. We could not ask for more.”
~ Isabella Boffa Oddero, Poderi e Cantine Oddero

Sneak Peek 

My determination to share these stories with the world before more of the wine family elders died drove me to create my own publishing company. The slow machinations of traditional publishing were not for me. Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte is the flagship publication of Under Discovered Publishing LLC in Vail, Colorado. The stories of wine families across the world are still to be told and Under Discovered will produce them. 

Labor of Love will be a beautiful 9-1/4” x 11-1/2” (23.5 cm x 29 cm), 320-page hardcover, jacketed book containing 22 chapters about the wine families, plus an introductory chapter on Giulia Colbert Falletti, the Marchesa di Barolo, considered to be the mother of modern day Barolo wine. It will look like a coffee table book, but read like a novel. The chapters were written to be read independently, but will captivate readers such that they may find it hard to put down this treasure.

Each chapter begins with a genealogy of the family to provide a generational roadmap for the reader, particularly useful for those families with more than eight generations on the land they now farm.

Rizzolio Family Tree

The chapters, based on interviews I conducted with families and individuals, are beautifully designed to draw readers into this special world – a centuries-old agrarian life committed to family and land and wine.

The book is filled with vibrant, captivating color photographs of landscapes and family members…

LAND - 37 - autumn - monte viso 10 novembre 2009 129
Monte Viso on the western border of Piemonte with France can easily be seen from the vine-covered hills of Piemonte, 50 miles away. Photo credit – Pierangelo Vacchetto
Mariavittoria (left) and Mariacristina, the Oddero sisters of Poderi e Cantine Oddero in La Morra in the Barolo denomination. Photo credit - Elisabetta Vacchetto
Mariavittoria (left) and Mariacristina, the Oddero sisters of Poderi e Cantine Oddero in La Morra in the Barolo denomination. Photo credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto
CHAPTER 3 - MATTEO CORREGGIA - Brigitta on barrels
Brigitta Correggia, daughter of Ornella Correggia and her late husband, Matteo. Photo credit – Pierangelo Vacchetto

…and family photos from generations past

Nonna Bice c
Beatrice Rizzolio, grandmother of Cascina delle Rose’s Giovanna Rizzolio.

Each chapter ends with an overview of the family’s winery to give readers a feel for the size, age, and location of each winery.

Screen Shot - winery details
My Stalwart Team   

Independently publishing a book of this magnitude and superb quality – worthy of the families who placed their sacred trust in me – required that I assemble a team of high-caliber editorial and design professionals.

  • PHOTOGRAPHERS: In the final year of Labor of Love’s development, my trio of photographers from Alba, Italy, in the heart of Piemonte – Pierangelo Vacchetto and his daughter, Elisabetta, and son, Eugenio, all Piemontesi themselves – traveled about the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato wine producing areas to capture real life photographs of the 22 wine families.
  • EDITOR: Elatia Harris, my developmental and conceptual editor, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a writer and editor with a long list not only of publications about food and culture but also of satisfied clients, including myself.
  • COPY EDITOR: Jody Berman of Berman Editorial in Boulder, Colorado, an editor, writer, proofreader, and publishing consultant, performed the final copyediting of Labor of Love.
  • DESIGNER: Cindi Yaklich of Epicenter Creative in Boulder, Colorado, put her more than 30 years of experience to work designing the entire book. Her front cover design is a mesmerizing representation of the love and tenderness inherent in the hard work done by the wine family women in their vineyards.
And what will readers get for my labor of love?

Do you know families who live far, far away, making their living from the land in a remote and beautiful place? Making one of civilization’s highest gifts, vintage after vintage, for hundreds of years? Have you listened to the voices of women reared in tradition as they assume leadership and experience their power for the very first time? Labor of Love delivers these behind-the-label stories, in the words of wine family members who have lived the life up to now known to so few. There is harsh labor, there is a far-seeing vision, and there is splendor in stories like these.

  • How Clotilde Rey, the mountain village schoolteacher, understood finance and risk, and became a revered Gaja matriarch

    Clotilde Rey, grandmother of Angelo Gaja of the iconic Barbaresco winery bearing the family's name.
    Clotilde Rey, grandmother of Angelo Gaja of the iconic Barbaresco winery bearing the family’s name.
  • How Carla Oddero, the pharmacist, made years of real estate investments to bless her family with cru vineyards

    Carla Oddero, late wife of beloved Barolo producer, Giacomo Oddero of Poderi e Cantina Oddero.
    Carla Oddero, late wife of beloved Barolo producer, Giacomo Oddero of Poderi e Cantina Oddero.
  • How La Mej, a gutsy young woman from Canale who started working as a child of nine, lifted her family from deep rural poverty and created a winery that her descendants run today as Monchiero Carbone

    Clotilde "Tilde" Raimondo, matriarch of the Monchiero family of Monchiero Carbone in Canale (Roero), Italy.
    Clotilde “Tilde” Raimondo, matriarch of the Monchiero family of Monchiero Carbone in Canale (Roero), Italy.
  • How Super Nonno, the patriarch of the Grasso family of Cà del Baio, inspired his three adoring granddaughters to join the family winery

    Ernesto Grasso, the late patriarch of Cà del Baio in Treiso (Barbaresco).
    Ernesto Grasso, the late patriarch of Cà del Baio in Treiso (Barbaresco).
  • How Cornelia Cigliuti chased pesky chickens in her vineyards, making a diversion to save her family and partisans they protected from the Black Shirt fascists on the Bricco di Neive.
The bucolic Serraboella vineyard was the scene of fierce battles between partisans and fascists between 1943 - 1945.
The bucolic Serraboella vineyard was the scene of fierce battles between partisans and fascists between 1943 – 1945.

You can see the unique and characteristic stories emerging from my labor of love. You can feel my sense of mission. As I write this very day, Piemonte wine families are taking the night watch to keep the caterpillars from destroying the tender buds on their vines. Their labor never ends.

Bringing my labor to life 

Printing and binding, the next step in bringing Labor of Love to life, is now in the hands of VeronaLibri, a leading printer of art and museum books based in Verona, Italy, a city where books were first published over 500 years ago. The first printing is 2,000 copies. An additional 1,000 copies may be ordered shortly after publication.

The publication date of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte is set for June 2, 2016, in Barbaresco, Italy.

Want to support the next step of bringing these wonderful stories to a wider audience across the globe? Go to my Kickstarter project page and check out the great rewards available to supporters, including books (free shipping and reduced prices available in US and Italy, respectively), unique items featuring the copyrighted cover art, and exclusive Piemontese wine family experiences.

Click on: Kickstart Labor of Love.


Back cover: The Giulio Grasso family of Cà del Baio (Treiso, Barbaresco) grateful for the earth’s bounty and looking to the next harvest with hope. Photo credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto

Kickstart My Labor of Love!

Top: The hands of world-renowned Barolo farmer and winemaker Chiara Boschis tenderly extract grapes to leave only the grapes for her to begin her winemaking alchemy. Photo credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto Bottom: Castello della Volta in Vergne above the village of Barolo. Photo credit – Pierangelo Vacchetto
The Presses Are Rolling in Verona

The final stages of the birth of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte began at VeronaLibri early Monday morning, April 18th. The presses began rolling to bring the product of my three-year adventure in Piemonte to life. Soon I will be able to hold this precious book in my hands and share it with the world.

But it’s time to look ahead to the next printing.

When we first began shopping printers for my book, we looked first at China for quotes to print 3,000 copies of the 320 page book. We could not find the quality we believed this important book and the wine families who shared their stories with me deserved. So we looked into Old World printers and found a leader in the production of art and photo books in Italy: Verona Libri.

VeronaLibri is a the choice of such luminary organizations as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the White House Historical Society. Seeing their beautiful work confirmed that they were the perfect choice to print Labor of Love. 

Not suprisingly, we discovered the prices in Italy were much higher. Well worth the added cost. The comprise we needed make to print in Italy was to reduce the first print run from 3,000, to 2,000 books.

Now that we’re seeing the initial excitement about this groundbreaking, unique book about the women of 22 Piemonte wine families, we want to print the additional 1,000 books we initially intended for the first print run.

For that, I’ve turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund the $13,000 needed for the additional copies.  

Please take a look at my Kickstarter program and consider one of the many delightful rewards, such as:

  • Pre-ordering opportunities for the book (discounted for purchases of two books)
  • Items such as coffee mugs, canvas tote bags, and canvas wine bags printed with the beautiful, copyrighted cover art featuring world famous Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis’ hands, and
  • Opportunities to meet the families and hear their stories firsthand while you sip their beautifully crafted wines.

Supporting my book project on Kickstarter is not a donation. By pledging the purchase of a reward, you pledge support to the project – and the wine families whose stories must be told to a wider audience. If I fall short of my  $13,000 goal by May 19th, 2016, you owe nothing. If I succeed, which I am confident I will, your credit card will be charged and you will receive your chosen reward(s) this summer.

So please check out my Kickstarter campaign and learn more about me, my labor of love, and the people I’ve grown to know and love.


Back cover of "Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte" Photo credit - Elisabetta Vacchetto Design by - Cindi Yaklich
The Giulio Grasso family of Cà del Baio in Treiso (Barbaresco) look with hope to the next wonderful vintage awaiting them. Back cover of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte”
Photo credit – Elisabetta Vacchetto
Design by – Cindi Yaklich