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%!
I’m so humbled by the outpouring of support for my Kickstarter campaign to raise $13,000 to fund the second printing of my book Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte.
Loyal friends and readers helped me pass 50% of my goal today with 18 days left to go of the 30-day all-or-none funding campaign.
Since I am offering the book as a reward, there are many opportunities to obtain it with free shipping (in the United States and special book rate shipping within Italy) and discounts for multiple books (rewards of 2, 4, and 6 books are available). There are also some exciting, unique opportunities for Piemonte wine family experiences and a ski day with the author in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Giacomo’s grandmother, Luigia Borgna Oddero, was the wellspring of the family’s current landholdings, not through a landed dowry but through her savvy financial transactions. Giacomo described her as an “entrepreneurial spirit, a strong and smart woman with a tough character.” Luigia was born in nearby Albaretto della Torre in 1854. School attendance was not compulsory at the time, and literacy was almost unattainable for women, but Luigia’s enlightened parents paid for her reading and writing lessons. Their unconventional decision set the stage for their daughter to become a key figure in the Oddero lineage.
Following her marriage into the Oddero family, Luigia began purchasing vineyards while still in her 20s. Giacomo recalled that Luigia “lived her life with a lot of debts.” She would save money. She would buy more land. Luigia repeated the cycle many times from the 1870s until her death in 1943. In the late 1800s, Jewish families from Cherasco to the north, who owned most of the land below La Morra near the Oddero home, decided to begin selling their land. They sought buyers who could demonstrate an ability to care for vineyards, and Luigia convinced them to sell to Oddero. Over the closing decades of the 19th century, Luigia began acquiring parcels from these Cherasco families, securing important vineyards for the family business, including the highly regarded Bricco Chiesa cru. Giacomo credits his grandmother with vision and courage. “We must be thankful to Luigia for the land she acquired,” he said. His daughters and granddaughter nodded their heads in accord. It was a solemn moment of deep recognition for a pioneering ancestor.
Luigia possessed not only the financial competence to expand the family’s holdings at a crucial time when land was obtainable, but the instinct for an innovative collaboration with her husband’s uncle, Luigi Oddero. The “almost priest,” as the Oddero family refers to Luigi, studied at seminary and suffered a personal crisis before he could take his final vows. What that crisis was, Giacomo didn’t say. Luigi returned home to his enraged father, who forced him to work in the vineyards as punishment for not finishing his studies. After one week, Luigi threw down his shovel.
Want to know the rest of the story? Pre-order your signed, first limited edition copy of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte” from my Kickstarter campaign today! Kickstarting my labor of love just one click away at:
A groundbreaking book about generations of inspiring women in 22 Piemontese wine families coming
into their own as vintners and leaders
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Lovewill 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.
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…
…and family photos from generations past
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.
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
How Carla Oddero, the pharmacist, made years of real estate investments to bless her family with cru vineyards
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
How Super Nonno, the patriarch of the Grasso family of Cà del Baio, inspired his three adoring granddaughters to join the family winery
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.
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.
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.