Labor of Love in Piemonte

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
Pierangelo Vacchetto
Elisabetta Vacchetto
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.

Otis the Wine Dog
Otis the Wine Dog

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.

My nonna, Frances Castrogiovanni Manale
My nonna, Frances Castrogiovanni Manale

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’anello forte” (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.

Fellow Travelers

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!

Handprints of the three Grasso sisters of Ca' del Baio - Paola, Valentina and Federica - on the roof of the newest addition to the winery.




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23 thoughts on “Labor of Love in Piemonte”

  1. Please wander through this website for earlier posts about many of the families and their women in “Labor of Love.”

        1. Are you referring to the castello? It’s in the Langhe. Do you recognize the hands? That’s a hard one. Hint – they belong to a wine family woman.

        1. Nope on both the cover and the hands on the ceiling, albeit the latter is from the ceiling of a winery in Barbaresco. ☺️

        2. p.s…hands play a prominent role in Labor of Love. The hands of a wine family woman caress, dry tears, nourish, tenderly train the vines and cut the bunches in summer during the green harvest and again when the grapes are ready to come home in autumn. Very special.

  2. Okay, but in this context the proper translation of “l’anello forte” is the “strong link” (as opposed to the “weak link”), not the “strong ring” (though also correct).

    1. Hi John,

      Yes. Like so many Italian words, the translation can be into more than one English word. In this case, “ring” or “link.” Every Piemontesi who called this beloved book to my attention used “ring.” I can’t recall offhand if I used only “ring” or also “link” in the book, but the meaning is always clear – the women are the strong connection not just between generations, but between family members.

      Keep reading. Keep commenting. Thanks so much.


    1. Ciao Tom,

      Ok. Now I connected the comment with the post. Nope. Another hint? There are three daughters in the current generation.

  3. The handprints have got to be Ca’ del Baio! So excited to read the book, Suzanne! Congrats on all you’ve accomplished with this. What an amazing journey, both in words and your personal experience! Looking forward to seeing you in June!

    1. ding ding ding!!! Valerie wins the contest “hands down!” ☺️

      Thank you for your kind words, Valerie. It has been a labor of love for all of us on my team. And the wine families have been incredibly helpful, trusting and generous with their stories. Writing about them was a challenge enough, but creating 22 family trees going back on average six generations. The Oddero family gave me TEN generations. How amazing. I have worked so hard for accuracy and clarity, but invariably there will be some boo boos along the way given memories are foggy in some cases and even within some families there is a bit of disagreement over names and dates. In any case, working with the youngest generations, like Federica Grasso and Isabella Oddero, amongst so many others, to research information about generations past has been such a pleasure watching in many cases as they learn along with me stories about their families.

      Looking forward to celebrating with you in June!

      Warmest wishes,

  4. Hi Suzanne, what a great journey, looking forward to reading your book. I have also seen the palm on the ceiling of the ancient cellar in Negro Angelo in Monteu Roero, though Giovanni has two sons!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m delighted you like it. I know the book was available in shops in Turin and Alba, but I don’t know exactly where the distributor placed it in Piemonte. You can get the book from Ca’ del Baio in Treiso. Let me know if you need further help. Many thanks again for your support of my labor of love.


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