Another week has gone by and the release date for Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte has inched ever closer.
This week I’d like to introduce you to the four fascinating Roero wine families who shared with me their family histories and their stories of love, tragedy and triumph. There are still many more stories to discover in the land of Arneis, Nebbiolo, Rocche and the masche(wicked witches of the forests) that lies north of the Tanaro River from the Langhe.
Roero, my friends, is not poor relative of the Langhe. It is a rich, vibrant region waiting to beguile the most diehard Langhe-phile! All you have to do is cross the bridge and explore.
What a great week it has been for my upcoming book, “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.”
I’m not surprised to see so much interest in the stories of the families behind the bottles of wines from the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero regions of Piemonte. My book includes stories from 22 wine families – some very famous, some not, but all wonderful examples of the passion and courage it has taken over the centuries to turn this special part of Italy into one of the most notable wine regions in the world. I loved hearing stories their stories – and still do – and found it such a privileged to be trusted with telling them.
I recognize Piemonte is one of the largest regions of Italy and these are but three of the wine zones, but this is merely the beginning of my discovery and the telling of these stories. In addition to these three zones, Alto Piemonte and Gavi are brimming with stories. And that’s just Piemonte’s wine country. Wherever there is a wine family, there are stories.
My hope with “Labor of Love” is that my curiosity and prodding will inspire other families to begin their own exploration and preserve these precious stories that hold in them the traditions that have kept this region alive for generations.
I embarked on my labor of love odyssey intending to interview, research and write about 10 families in Roero and Langhe, the two places I knew best in Piemonte. That was March 2013. By the time I returned to Italy in June, the list had grown. In June 2015, when I finished the last of well-over 100 hours of interviews, I had the stories of 22 wine families of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato – plus a little something from Alto Piemonte – to share with the world.
Thousands of emails and countless hours since March 2013, when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2015, my writing was finished. Now it’s time to introduce those I have carried with me day and night in my heart for nearly three years.
The Barolo Wine Families
The women of Barolo and their families who will come alive in ways Piemontephiles never expected are:
Coming soon! Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte Suzanne Hoffman Foreword by Maurizio Rosso Release date: June 2, 2016 Treiso (Barbaresco), Italy Conceived in Italy
Publisher: Under Discovered LLC, Vail, CO Editor: Elatia Harris Designer: Cindi Yaklich, Epicenter Creative
Copy Editor: Jody Berman, Berman Editorial
Eugenio Vacchetto Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona, Italy
Suzanne’s Journey on a Road Not Taken
In November 1999, my Piemontese odyssey in Italy’s Northwest began. Over 20 trips and 14 years later, on March 19, 2013, I arrived for a different reason. Now my purpose wasn’t to drink and eat as though Bacchus himself was my guide. This time it was to travel a road not taken. I was writing a book. This was the first of many trips to interview wine families I had known for years and many I met because of this project.
Writing was not a foreign experience for me – not as an attorney, nor as a journalist – but this was my first book. It was one I was driven to write as the desire to commit to paper the images and words of Piemonte’s wine family women – and their men – burned in my soul.
Life planted the seeds for this venture shortly after the summer of 2005 when I lost my mother, my companion along with Otis, my Miniature Schnauzer who traveled with us on that first trip to Piemonte in 1999.
These were difficult days for me. I yearned for a closer bond with the wine families we had come to know, particularly the women who nurtured those lives. My grandmother, Frances Castrogiovanni Manale, had been my family’s strong connection and, although she had been gone for over 30 years, I felt her presence when I listened to stories the wine families shared with me.
The wine families are linked to one another through their traditions, their land and the labor of love they share. The generational links are the women, particularly the grandmothers. In the words of Nuto Revelli, revered Italian author, they are “l’anelloforte” (the strong ring). They keep traditions and stories alive. They nurture the future of the family.
To me, the wine families represented constancy, familial love and a strong connection to place. To hear their stories about their grandmothers – many of whom lived centuries ago – was once again to be in my own grandmother’s kitchen in New Orleans. To smell her Sicilian cooking. To feel her soft, peaches and cream skin as she hugged me. I needed that, and more. Perhaps deepening my connections with them through my own labor of love could help me heal my wounds of loss. Grandmothers, even if they are someone else’s, always make us feel better.
Now, after nearly three years of countless emails and over 100 hours of interviews over wine tastings, delicious meals and walks through vineyards and cellars, my book containing the personal stories 22 wine families of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato regions of Piemonte shared, we with are moving to the next phase – production.
In celebration of completing months of intense work writing and editing with my editor Elatia Harris, I would like to share today the beautiful cover design created for my book soon to be printed in Italy.
Pierangelo Vacchetto and his daughter Elisabetta Vacchetto of Alba, Italy, took the two photographs on the cover. They are two of the three Vacchettos who are capturing the images of the wine families for “Labor of Love.” Eugenio, Pierangeli’s son, is the third. Cindi Yaklich of Epicenter Creative in Boulder merged their two photographs to create this beautiful cover design. You’ll have to guess who the subject is!
Elatia Harris is finishing the editing. Cindi is now working on the interior book design while Jody Berman of Berman Editorial is copyediting and proofreading. It’s all coming together.
Check back next week for the answer to the question, “Which Italian printer will transform Labor of Love into a treasured keepsake?”
Trivia question: Where in Piemonte is this and whose hands are those? Answer next week!