Tag Archives: wine

Koki Wine Bar: Barbaresco Gem



When I first drove into Barbaresco two decades ago this autumn, the village was cloaked in thick, bone-chilling fog. I soon learned the mantle covering the village was emblematic of Langhe in November.

Barbaresco was a ghost town. In the Piazza del Municipio in the village’s heart, only the Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco and the Antica Torre, then around the corner from the Enoteca, seemed to have signs of life. Not much happening in that late afternoon period between coffee and aperitivo. At the other end of Barbaresco’s singular street, via Torino, the air was heavy with that intoxicating post-harvest smell of fermenting grapes in the Produttori del Barbaresco. In between the two ends of the village, the mysterious alchemy that is winemaking was no doubt going on behind the thick, green iron gate that hid the inner sanctum of the renowned Gaja winery from view. That was it. Not a creature was stirring.

Wait a minute! That was it? Barbaresco? So famous, but so small and quiet.

That was then.

Koki Wine Bar helps keep Barbaresco alive at night throughout the year.

Fast forward twenty years and on most days Barbaresco is anything but quiet. Between her awakening and long past the sun’s descent behind the Alps to the west the village buzzes. No longer is the tiny village only alive with tourists in the sunny months of September and October when tractors laden with precious, ripe grapes lumber along the cobblestones to the wineries, or in late March and April when Europeans north of the Alps seek Langhe’s early springtime warmth. Today, Barbaresco is alive with locals and visitors for most of the year.

Fame from Piemonte’s rising star as a popular wine tourism destination drew people to the village from which the famous wine takes its name. But it took a young man from Japan and a wine bar sporting his name to help transform Barbaresco into the energetic village it is today. Anyone who has found themselves under the plane trees in the piazza sipping a glass of wine on a hot summer day knows I’m speaking of Koki Sato.

Barbaresco’s very own Koki Sato

The hissing sound of an espresso machine, wine glasses clinking, and laughter amid chatter now fill the tiny piazza from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays, when the wine bar is shuttered for its mandated weekly closing, the village is quieter. Koki Wine Bar has become a gathering spot of locals and visitors and has played a large role in energizing the village.

Japan to Barbaresco thanks to Barolo

Koki began his odyssey from Japan to Barbaresco in 1998 with a job in an Italian restaurant in hometown of Sapporo. Here Koki experienced cucina italiana and soon tasted the wine that sealed his destiny – Barolo.

One night a customer offered Koki a taste of Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino from the stellar 1990 vintage. I suppose if one is to experience Barolo for the first time, it’s quite special to start with one of the best. To say it was love at first sip is an understatement. The wine captivated Koki with its elegance as it filled his mouth with rich fruit, lingering for a long finish, providing gustatory sensations that inspired him to learn more about wine.

A senior sommelier in the restaurant initiated Koki’s vinous education with a virtual tour of the world of wine. Koki tasted wines from many different regions and began to expand his wine horizons and appreciation. In 2005, the year after his first trip to Piemonte, Koki became a sommelier in his own right.

Wine was not the only education Koki pursued in the two intervening years between Piemonte trips. He studied Italian, preparing him for a longer stay in Piemonte that began in 2006 when he moved to the region to master his favorite grape, Nebbiolo.

In 2009, Koki began working at La Ciau del Tornavento, the celebrated restaurant just behind the church in the tiny Barbaresco village of Treiso. Again, nothing like starting at the top as he did with Barolo. Michelin-star chef Maurilio Garola and his restaurant co-owner, Nadia Benech, gave Koki the opportunity to broaden his wine knowledge and service skills in one of Italy’s greatest restaurants. With an expansive, labyrinthine wine cellar of over 60,000 bottles, Koki was able to serve some of the finest wines ever produced. This further deepened his love of wine, particularly Nebbiolo. Through the years, Maurilio and Nadia have become Koki’s cherished mentors and sources of inspiration. “They are special to me,” he emphatically said.

After four years working at the pinnacle of the Italian restaurant industry, Koki returned to Japan. He pondered opening a wine bar in his hometown. In those heady, exciting first years of the new millennium, the Far East was fast becoming an important, emerging market for Piemonte wines. Koki was not alone in Japan in his love of the region, its food, and, of course, its wine, so demand was certainly in his favor.

Before Koki could take the plunge in Sapporo, Maurilio offered him the opportunity to open a wine bar in a small space in the center of Barbaresco. For about two weeks Koki thought deeply about the chance to work in Italy rather than remain in Japan. Six months later, in March 2013, Maurilio’s Prima e Poi del Tornavento opened with Koki at the helm.

Koki later purchased the bar and in April 2017 it was renamed “Koki Wine Bar.”

In the short time since Koki dove headfirst into the world of business ownership, Koki Wine Bar has become a favorite of local wine producers who enjoy ending their days with an aperitivo on the patio in summer or inside the warm, cozy bar as the night chill of autumn chases everyone indoors. Koki and his peers across the Langhe in Barolo at such places as Barolo Friends and La Vite Turchese, and More e Macine in La Morra, have filled a need for a place to have a quick bite between winery visits, a light dinner after a long day of food and wine, or just a place to sit, sip, and watch the wine world go by. Venues that are part wine bar, part osteria were sorely needed in the wine villages of the Langhe. Koki certainly made an important contribution with his little oasis.

Labor of Love Society Autumn 2019 “Board of Directors Meeting” at the group’s headquarters, Koki Wine Bar. Pictured left to right: Jeffrey Chilcott (seated), Alessandro Boido, Elena Sottimano, Ludovica di Grésy, Lorenzo Scavino, Silvia Altare, Denise Pardini, author, Alberto di Grésy, and Koki Sato..
Thriving Part of the Langhe Dining Culture

One of the attractions of the Langhe restaurant culture for many, including myself, is the tradition of multicourse, slow lunches. A large lunch and a small evening meal of salumi, cheese, bread, and, on occasion, wine, was always my preferred way to tackle the region on short visits. But for people wanting to visit several wineries a day, it can prove to be an insurmountable gastronomic challenge to have a long lunch.  The evolution of wine bars such as Koki Wine Bar in Langhe and Roero have solved that pleasant dilemma for visitors and locals.

Now, in Barbaresco, oenophiles can enjoy a short, relaxing snack between winery appointments. A favorite of my tour guests at the end of a week of Bacchanalian adventures is to have a light lunch on Koki’s patio. His salumi and cheese board and Piemontese salad along with  a glass or two of wine is the perfect entre-winery fuel.

Ask Koki for a wine recommendation and watch as his smiling demeanor changes into evidence of deep, serious contemplation. Then out comes a suggestion you should not ignore. This is serious business for Koki. Pairing the right wine with a guest is as important to him as pairing the right wine with food. To Koki, it isn’t about the most expensive wine or most famous producers. It’s about taking his guests on an adventure through his wine list. It is also about providing the growing number of up-and-coming Piemonte producers a stage for their wines in this incredibly competitive market. Koki knows most of the producers on his list of Piemonte wines so you will probably get a story or two along with the wine. As it should be.

Like so many young entrepreneurs in the Langhe, Koki is not afraid to venture outside the norm and create unexpected experiences for his guests. Last December – a time when the pace in the cellars slows down a bit and wine producers get to relax and enjoy quiet evenings out – Koki and Chef Masaki created Friday night Japanese dinners that quickly became popular sellouts. Each Friday featured a different style of Japanese cuisine, culminating with seafood night featuring a large plate of sushi rolls and sashimi. Tuna carpaccio topped with white truffles, a favorite of Koki’s, was one of the most unusual uses of the precious fungus I’ve ever had. Superb. Koki, no stranger to high quality, had gone to Milano himself to choose seafood for Chef Masaki. Those fun evenings proved to be the best deal around at 35 euros for the three courses and were a huge hit with the locals. Koki tells me that his Japanese Fridays are making a return to Barbaresco this December.

Last of Koki’s Friday night Japanese dinners in December 2018. Returning in 2019.
The Future for Koki

No one, including Koki, knows what the future holds for him. He just celebrated his 40th birthday and already he has fostered a following on several of the Continents. Koki’s dedication to the local vintners and to providing a fun venue for their wines to be tasted and sold has earned Koki their loyalty and support. Koki’s fans, myself included, would love for him to remain forever in his little wine bar in Barbaresco. As long as his parents are healthy, he told me, he’d like stay in Piemonte, but his vision is to one-day own two wine bars – one in Japan and one in Italy – and travel between the two countries.

Koki will succeed wherever in the world he lands. His passion for quality, knowledge of food and wine, his talent for creating a warm, inviting environment, and, most importantly, his ability to foster loyalty will always be in demand. And no doubt, Nebbiolo will be the star of any wine bar he opens.

Important things to know about Koki Wine Bar
  • Location: Piazza del Municipio 30, Barbaresco (across from the Municipio)
  • Opening Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays).
  • Retail wine purchases available.
  • Small menu. Try the agnolotti in a jar and the anchovies with bread and butter.
  • Delicious cugnà from Cà d’Gal available for sale.
  • Best patio in the area thanks to Koki and his team.
  • Best Barbaresco t-shirts and biking jerseys for sale!
  • Headquarters of the Labor of Love Society, a group of vintners and wine professionals dedicated to camaraderie and preservation of the region’s familial wine industry culture.
What the local wine producers have to say about Koki

I asked some of the local producers for their insights about Koki and his place in Barbaresco’s culture. The responses were so warm and filled with admiration and love for Koki that I struggled to dissect them and include them in the article. So I decided to add an “in their own words” section to this post. Think of it as one of the most valuable, honest reviews of Koki and his wine bar you’ll ever read. These days, we need to hear more such words to drown out all the acrimony.

Koki with Alberto di Grésy who enjoys his evening gin & tonic at Koki Wine Bar when he’s in town.
Alberto di Gresy, Marchesi di Grésy (Barbaresco)

“Koki is a great guy, simply! When is bar is open, the village is also open, alive.

That’s apparently because of its location, at the very entrance of the major street Via Torino, but many do not love to [go to] Barbaresco on Wednesday because Koki is closed.

[Koki] has always been very well accepted for his professionalism and kindness as a former maître of la Ciau del Tornavento, and Maurilio was the one to believe in Koki…

This place [Koki Wine Bar], I repeat, is able to give to anyone arriving in the village a SIGNAL, and when is closed (on Wednesday) the little village seems like the desert.

 Koki is always allegro, charming guy. Every conversation is brilliant with him, very interested [in] any news, positive, always smiling…also he was able to select [experienced] helpers for the service, and by summer (with the patio open) they make a big job in numbers of guests. Not that easy to reach with that quality!!

If I can, I go there even more than one time a day. Formidable!”

Koki Sato and Jeffrey Chilcott, cellar master at Marchesi di Grésy.
Jeffrey Chilcott, Marchesi di Grésy (Barbaresco)

“Always good to pass by Koki’s after work for a refreshing birretta, also some vino too! [Koki Wine Bar] is a good meeting point for sure, and a chance to catch up with what’s happening in the village and who’s in the village. Koki has become a great local figure and his solid team are quick and efficient. [He is] a key figure in helping the village as it continues to grow. Barbaresco is a central point of reference now, travelling the world by words, glasses and bottles. KAMPAI KOKI!”

Daniela Rocca, Albino Rocca (Barbaresco)

“Koki is a great person who had great courage to leave his country. For that we have a big respect for him. He has a great passion for wines and a very good knowledge. He is the kind of guy who is always smiling. We like him also because he always has new ideas about food and he has enlarged the wine list, making a big investment. All the people from Barbaresco love him.” 

Silvia Altare, Elio Altare (Annunziata, Barolo)

Koki’s place in Barbaresco is the place to go. Whether you need a coffee, a good glass of wine, or a nice dinner, Koki will guide you through his deep wine list and share his knowledge gained from years of experience in Piemonte. We need more Kokis around the region!

Chiara Boschis, E. Pira e Figli (Barolo); sentiments shared by Claudia Cigliuti, Az. Ag. F.illi Cigliuti (Barbaresco)

“Koki has great professionalism, dedication and kindness in what he does. You can feel the deep passion and respect for our land, people, wines and culture. I can tell you that he is such a good person that we all love him a lot. He [has fought] through many difficulties of his work, but he never complains and never asks [for] anything. He always just smiles warmly and make you feel special’ He is amazing!”

Carlo Deltetto, Deltetto 1953 (Canale, Roero)

“Koki is a great friend and [his wine bar] is one of my favorite places in Langhe. I’m from Roero, but when I have the chance with Paola or simply when I’m in the area just for wine deliveries, or riding my motorbike through the hills of Barbaresco, I always stop to Koki. For a quick lunch or just for a glass of wine. Why? Not just because of the quality of the food, the wine, and the beautiful location, but because of Koki. He always welcomes us with a smile, ready to share a glass of wine. I often like to ask him: give me something new, something that you like and that maybe I don’t know… and it is always a great tasting experience. I also like to share with him a new Deltetto label or vintage. His opinion is always very important for me. He has a great experience in wine tasting and, because of lots of tourist passing through Barbaresco, he knows what the people of all the world likes.

 Simply, Koki is a very special guy.”

 Paola Grasso, Cà del Baio (Treiso, Barbaresco)

“Koki is first a good friend of our family, second, he is one of the best ambassadors of the Barbaresco area. [Koki] is a hard worker, professional with clients and smiling and funny with children. My daughters, Lidia e Anna, love him! I think there is not one person that can talk badly of him. Sometimes I think about is culture and how it was for him before and I can definitely say his is now a true piemontese guy!” 

Valentina Grasso, Cà del Baio (Treiso, Barbaresco)

“Koki is a great person and believer of our area and the Nebbiolo grape. He is always happy to welcome every person coming into his bar.”

Isabella Boffa Oddero, Poderi e Cantine Oddero (Santa Maria-La Morra, Barolo)

“Koki is a person that immediately inspires positivity, happiness, and professionalism. When you talk with him you understand that he really cares for his job, he is so respectful of the wines, and of the work of the producers of the area. He is simply the best genuine ambassador for our region! He welcomes you with a smile and knows what hospitality really means. His honesty and serenity are so special to me!”

And finally, something in Italian.

Alessandro Boido, Cà d’Gal (Santo Stefano Belbo, Monferrato)

“Io ho sempre ammirato i ragazzi come Koki sono venuti qui nelle Langhe da 10000 km per conoscere meglio la nostra terra, imparare un mestiere, oggi lui ha fatto di più e diventato un punto di riferimento per tanti momenti, e gente, che amano il vino il cibo ecc. 

E un ragazzo ingamba che ha dato a Barbaresco una cosa in più che un Wine Bar, un bel posto dove trascorrere ore in compagnia in ogni momento dell’anno.

In più si è rivelato un grande amico dal cuore buono !  

 As Jeffrey Chilcott likes to say, “Forza Koki!”

The excellent team at Koki Wine Bar: (left to right) Alessandro Ferrando, Roberta Minasso, Koki Sato, Martina Culasso, and chef Masaki Yokoyama.
May 2018 Labor of Love Society “Board of Directors Meeting” at Koki Wine Bar.
June 2018 Labor of Love Society “Board of Directors Meeting” at Koki Wine Bar.


Anduma a Piemonte! Let’s go to Piemonte!

Labor of Love tour

Labor of Love Piemonte Tour

Join me, author Suzanne Hoffman, and licensed wine educator and certified French Wine Scholar Sheral Schowe of the Wasatch Academy of Wine for a highly personalized, intimate seven-day exploration of this enchanting land on a Labor of Love Piemonte Tour from June 9 – 16, 2019. 

Piemonte is an enchanting region of Italy begging to be explored. The Alps cradle Piemonte, Italy’s second largest region after Sicily, and dominate its diverse landscape of valleys, vineyard-carpeted rolling hills, and fertile flatland nourished by the Po River.

The region is home to myriad agricultural bounties — wine, rice, cheese, meat, hazelnuts, and the world-famous tartufi bianchi, white truffles. It is rich not only in gastronomic and vinous delights, but in history, culture, and architecture. Despite its capital, Turin, hosting the winter sports world in the 2006 Olympics, and its notoriety as a premier wine region, it remains an under discovered part of Italy.

Oenophiles from Switzerland and Germany began to uncover the treasures of Piemonte in the waning decades of the 20th century. I was among that wave from Switzerland, making the first of nearly 30 visits to Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato areas of Piemonte in November 1999. On June 2, 2016, I launched my book Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte at Cà del Baio in Treiso, one of the picturesque villages of the Barbaresco denomination. The launch of Labor of Lovewas not the end of my Piemonte adventures, but the beginning of a whole new chapter in my relationship with the region and its wine families.

My book has enabled both oenophiles and lovers of Italy’s rich culture to connect with 22 of the region’s wine families and now serves as a roadmap for exploring this under discovered region with me.

Each Labor of Love Piemonte tour is customized to meet the interests of the organizer. This one in partnership with the Wasatch Academy of Wine is a wine-centric tour that will include four excellent master classes and many other vinous, gastronomic, and cultural experiences.

There are limited spaces available for the June 2019 tour, so to join in this bucket list worthy adventure, or for information on how to organize your own customized Labor of Love Piemonte tour, email me at Suzanne@winefamilies.com for a registration form.

Book cover
Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte
Suzanne Hoffman
Suzanne Hoffman, author of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte” and leader of Labor of Love Piemonte Tours, enjoying a few moments of satisfaction after an enjoyable week with wine educators from the Wasatch Academy of Wine. Photo Credit: Joseph Broom.
Marc Lanteri
Barolo vintner Silvia Altare joining Labor of Love tour guests for a white truffle dinner at Ristorante Marc Lanteri at Castello Grinzane Cavour.
Matteo Molino
Barolo vintner Matteo Molino of Cantina Mauro Molino conducting a master class for a group of wine educators from Wasatch Academy of Wine.
Jeffrey Chilcott
Cellar master Jeffrey Chilcott of Marchesi di Grésy conducting a tasting for wine educators from Wasatch Academy of Wine.
Carlo Deltetto
Roero vintner Carlo Deltetto conducting a Spumante Extra Brut metodo classico master class for wine educators from Wasatch Academy of Wine.
Ca del Baio
Barbaresco vintner Paola Grasso of Cà del Baio conducting a Barbaresco Asili master class for wine educators from Wasatch Academy of Wine.
Castello di Grinzane Cavour
Castello di Grinzane Cavour, former home of Count Camillo Benso di Cavour and current home of Ristorante Marc Lanteri, one of the Labor of Love Michelin star gastronomic experiences. Photo Credit: Joseph Broom
Marc Lanteri
Partners in life and business, Amy Marcelle Bellotti and Michelin Star Chef Marc Lanteri posing with Count Camilo Benso, the previous occupant of the Castello di Grinzane Cavour.
La Ciau
Wine educators from the Wasatch Academy of Wine with Maurizio Rosso, owner of Cantina Gigi Rosso, in the famed cellar of La Ciau del Tornavento.
il Centro
Labor of Love tour guests with Jeffrey Chilcott, cellar master of Marchesi di Grèsy, and Giampiero Cordero in the cellar of his family’s Michelin Star restaurant, Ristorante il Centro.
Orangery group pic
Labor of Love tour guests from the Beaver Creek Club after dinner “at home” in the Orangery at Marchesi Alfieri with sommelier Isella Zanutto, Barbaresco vintner Federica Grasso, and Noemi Rinaldi of Desiderio Olive Oil company.
Orangery (left) and Castello (right) on the Marchesi Alfieri estate, Piemonte home of Labor of Love tours.
Exterior of the Orangery on the Marchesi Alfieri estate. Each tour enjoy a lunch and two dinners “at home” in the Orangery.
Fire lit and tables set for another enjoyable Labor of Love tour dinner “at home” with wine producers in the Orangery of Marchesi Alfieri.
Sheral Schowe
Sheral Schowe, licensed wine educator and certified French Wine Scholar, of the Wasatch Academy of Wine.
Marie-Hélène Cully
Art restorer Marie-Hélène Cully conducting a private tour of the ballroom in the Castello di Marchesi Alfieri for Labor of Love tour guests. Marie-Hélène spent several years working on the extensive restoration of the ballroom and other rooms in the Castello.
Davide Pasquero
Davide Pasquero, Wine Sleuth, of Terroir Selection in Treiso, Piemonte. Davide is the consulting sommelier and cycling tour provider for Labor of Love tours.




by Emanuele Caruso, Obiettivo Cinema s.a.s.
and Under Discovered Productions LLC

Enjoy a REAL reality video about the under discovered lives, history, and culture of the Piemontese wine families.

Click here for video link.

Not famous for being famous!

These people are not famous for being famous.

They are famous for making incredible wine and keeping cherished traditions alive in a world that so desperately needs reality.

Chiara Boschis
Chiara Boschis
Look upstream, not only downstream

It seems the wine programs are always about the downstream part of the business and typically the only wine producers featured are the big, uber-famous ones. They are great and open many doors for the wine regions.

But what about the those like Giulio Grasso, Toni and Carlo Deltetto, Silvia and Claudia Cigliuti, Elisa Semino, Chiara Boschis, Nadia Curto, those who populate the pages of my book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonteand SO VERY MANY MORE too numerous to list?

Wine producers
Piemontese vintners at Cà del Baio winery.

They are citizens of the wine world who rise long before sunrise for work wherever they are needed — in the blazing hot or freezing cold vineyards (pick your season, they are always there), in the cellar doing an array of tasks that involve all the senses and strength, or working at the whim of the market to sell their wines.

What about their stories and those of their ancestors who lived through poverty, pestilence, fascism, war, and occupation? That’s the reality that brings to so many of you the wines you love.

We will march onward to bring our documentary series to life, but in the meantime I want to share the lovely work Emanuele Caruso did during the difficult, smoggy 2017 autumn and while he was preparing to release his highly acclaimed film La Terra Buona. Emanuele is an amazing artist and, along with the wine producers, speaks beautifully from a rich Piemontese heart and soul.

God bless them all!

Hope you enjoy. Spread the word about this truly magical wine region and the under discovered stories of her inhabitants, culture, and history.


Cascina delle Rose
Bringing the Nebbiolo grapes home to the cantina at Cascina delle Rose in Barbaresco.
Jeffrey Chilcott
Jeffrey Chilcott, cellar master at Marchesi di Grésy winery in Barbaresco.
Davide Sobrino
Davide Sobrino and his father Italo in the vineyards of their family’s Cascina delle Rose in Barbaresco.

Wines Do Not Live By Scores Alone!

It’s Not All About the Scores

Friends, colleagues, and followers know I get irked by “Best of…” or “Top (pick a number) Wines/Restaurants.” The other thing that irks me is a heavily reliance on scores that goes something like this from my community newsletter regarding a Christmas wine tasting:

“_______ Liquors will present wines that have SCORED OVER 90 POINTS and are under $30 per bottle.” (Emphasis added)

How boring!

Ok, I get the “under $30” part, but why oh why do I so often see “over 90 points” in advertisements? It’s a tasting, so can’t the liquor store curate some delicious wines that aren’t necessarily rated?

Now, before I get in trouble (again) with a certain executive editor, let me clarify that I am not dissing ratings…well, not exactly. All I am saying is that there is much more to discovering new wines than by relying solely on big scores. And let’s face it, wine is all about the experience, so why not begin that experience with your search for new vinous excitement in your life?

Back to the community newsletter invitation to taste.

Needless to say, whose ratings are we talking about in the first place? What about Italian wines that received Tre Bicchieri or 5 Grappoli from highly regarded Italian wine guides? Three glasses and five bunches of grapes carry a great deal of weight in Italy. Or what about wines like Nadia Curto‘s family’s Barolo Arborina 2014 that was just cited by Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times as one of her recommended wines for Christmas. I challenge journalists not to wait for a cold day in the Netherworld before you taste the Curto family’s wines, and those of other wineries — many of them run by women — flying below the radar.

Some producers may nail down well-deserved high scores for their top wines, but their entries further down the price list are often not scored. Don’t miss out on those! This is particularly so for Langhe Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba, and Roero Nebbiolo, and Barbera, particularly in favorable vintages. And those are just some reds. Don’t miss the previously obscure Langhe Riesling or the incredible metodo classico bubbles coming from the region, particularly Alta Langa, I wrote about recently.

Ah, but the secrets that Piemonte holds for those who do not live by numbers alone.

Looking Beyond the Numbers

There are many up and coming producers who remain — for now — well under the radar. Wineries, like the Curto family of Annunziata in Barolo I mentioned above, never get rated because of some journalistic prejudices against the small wineries. I’ll let you in on a secret. Nadia Curto’s mamma is Adele Altare. Ring a bell? It should. The guiding hands of Nadia’s uncle up the hill and his charismatic, talented daughter can be found in these precious wines. If you check out the genealogy of Chapter 5 in my book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, you’ll find Adele’s name on the same generational line as Elio Altare, her little brother, and above her niece Silvia. Get my point?

Altare Family Genealogy

My rule of thumb and advice I give to clients and readers: If you are unfamiliar with a region or wine, use ratings as a guidepost, but not as the end-all. Most of all, do some research on importers and find out which ones and are known for having a well balanced and high quality portfolio. Do they offer entry level wines of great producers like Chiara Boschis of E. Pira e Figli in Barolo and Marchesi Di Gresy or only their superstars? Chances are you will be very happy with whatever wines these sorts of importers choose to fill precious shipping space in a container.

Treasure Trove of Resources 

Not sure how to find out that information? Ask for guidance from your favorite search engine (which could be DuckDuckGo.com) and from the other reputable wine professionals in your life: your favorite bottle shop staff. In Colorado, my list of go-to importers includes (this is not an exhaustive list, only the ones I’ve dealt with and have a very high regard for): Dalla Terra (Brian Larky), Giuliana Imports (Steve Lewis), Old World Wine Company (Zach Locke), Vias Imports Limited (Chris Blacklidge), Winebow, Elite Brands, and Southern Wine and Spirits (Damon Ornowski).

In the Vail area, Jarrett Osborn, owner of Riverwalk Wine and Spirits has been a very good friend of Piemonte and has a great selection from across the world, and Cary Hogan at Avon Liquors, and Beverly DeMoss at Boone’s Wine and Spirits in Eagle are all very reliable sources. Again, not an exhaustive list as our valley has a great wine culture.

And then there’s John Rittmaster in Walnut Creek, CA. No, you don’t have to travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to take advantage of John’s vast wine knowledge that he so generously shares. All you have to do is seek him out at Prima Vini Wine Merchants and Restaurant and ask the oracle to help you find, source, and ship delicious wines from across the world. Easy peasy.

Want to go even further afield? There’s Davide Pasquero of Terroir Selection in the tiny Barbaresco denomination village of Treiso. Davide is a full-service resource and he can find you hard-to-get vintages as well as easy ones, too. Don’t let shipping costs scare you off from going straight to the source with someone like Davide.

Final tip (almost there folks). Restaurants with creative wine lists can be a great source of wines that will wow friends and family around your table anytime of year. Again, in the Vail area my two favorites for always having a great selection of wines that aren’t on everyone’s lists are vin48 Restaurant Wine Bar and Zino Ristorante (Italian wines, especially). Greg Eynon has a knack for finding the most obscure, delicious wines for his tome of a wine list. Giuseppe Bosco at Zino provides a wine list filled with great choices of Italian (and American wines) that are not the usual suspects. If the wines are on their list, they are obtainable in the state…provided they or their savvy guests haven’t bought all the importers’ stock.

The bottom line is you might want to use scores as a roadmap when you’re in new vinous territory, but it pays to get off the interstate highways and drive along the backroads and talk to some of the people along the way to find some treasures.

Ok, enough with the metaphors.

Whatever you end up with, enjoy it and raise a glass to all who toil in the vineyards, cellars, and retail establishments to get these wines to you.

Buon Natale, tutti!

Now my question:


Vinous Holiday Companions

I’m now in the heart of the Langhe until the beginning of my 20th year of over 30 visits to Piemonte that included one successfully published book on the region’s wine families.

Thanksgiving morning, while sipping my morning cappuccino and visiting cyberspace, I came upon several articles about Thanksgiving wine advice. Although the holiday has come and gone, there is still a lot of merry to be made before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Being in Piemonte, I couldn’t help but share some of my own  suggestions and some shopping tips for your vinous companions this holiday season.

Treiso (Barbaresco)
The village of Treiso in the Barbaresco denomination of the Langhe.
Vinous Experiences

Wine is an experience, not merely a beverage, so my tip for any meal is to serve wines with stories behind them (of course I would say that). Make the wine producers and their terroir part of the meal conversation by telling their stories. There are lots of them out there in cyberspace (and in my bookLabor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte). Or, even better, you could visit their wineries with me and meet the wine families on a Labor of Love tour. Talking about them and their labor of love certainly beats the heck out talking politics at the table (or anywhere else).

Book cover
Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte

In our Colorado high country home, we don’t pair wine with food. The opposite. First we choose the wines we want to drink and then figure out what to cook. More often than not, those wines are from Piemonte, Sicily, or Valais Switzerland. Since I’m in Piemonte for the holidays, let’s go with some of my thoughts on those wines.

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Sparkler

My go-to sparklers I love are Metodo Classico bubbles from Piemonte (aka classical style…think Champagne, not Prosecco…please). I particularly like Ettore Germano Alta Langa, Deltetto Spumante Brut or Extra Brut (try the Brut Rosé – 50/50 Nebbiolo/Pinot Noir), and Contratto For England Pas Dose. Can’t go wrong with any of those. If you can find it in the States, Marchesi Alfieri Blanc de Noir (100% Pinot Noir) is an excellent choice for your holiday bubbles.

Spumanti aging
Deltetto spumanti aging at their winery in Canale (Roero).

Whatever you choose, please don’t think the word “spumante” is not associated with quality wines. Far from it. Spumante merely means “sparkling wines” in Italian. Personally, I believe the Asti Spumante commercials of Christmases past put a damper on today’s  efforts to market spumante in America. Sad because there is some excellent Asti Spumanti out there.

Bottom line, each type of bubbles has its place.

Not all Rieslings Are Created Sweet

Regarding Riesling. Nails on a chalkboard when people say to me “Riesling is too sweet for my taste.” Trocken (dry) Riesling is NOT sweet. So please, taste one from Piemonte because as far as I’ve experienced, they are all dry. My particular favorites are Ettore Germano “Herzu,” G. D. Vajra “Petracine,” and Cà del Baio Riesling Langhe Bianco DOC.

For a great primer on Riesling (and all other varietals), visit Wine Folly or buy the book by the same name.  Sidebar: this book makes a great Christmas present for the oenophile in your life. I look forward to the day when Madeline adds Piemonte to the list of regions where one can find dry Riesling. Hint.

The Little Rascal

Arneis is more than a white wine. It’s also the name of my dog who, like the meaning of his name, is a rascal. When I began spending more time back in the States in the early part of the millennium, Arneis — the wine — was hard to find. It is now readily available across the U.S. At the risk of upsetting my Langhe producer friends, I am partial to the Roero Arneis. To my palate, sand makes for a better Arneis and there is much of it to be found in the soil of the Roero north of Langhe across the Tanaro River.

Fortunately there is a wide range of Arneis producers exporting to America. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say there are many importers in the States who got wise to the grape’s appeal and are importing it. Whichever way you look at it, there are some great Roero Arneis choices of different styles to be found in the U.S., such as Deltetto, Matteo Correggia, Monchiero-Carbone, Negro, Malvirà, and Vietti.

Arneis the dog
My little rascal
The Next Big Thing

Paola Grasso of Cà del Baio said to me today, “Timorasso is the next big thing in Piemonte.” She’s savvy, with a keen eye for developments in the market and judging from the growing interest in the grape from journalists and importers, she is no doubt onto something.

This past week I visited Elisa Semino of La Colombera in Colli Tortonesi in the far southeastern corner of Piemonte. It was love at first sip for me. I dream of her Timorasso! Hard to imagine that before the 1980s, many Timorasso vineyards fell victim to the popularity of Cortese. Vintners ripped out Timorasso vines and replaced them with the high demand grape from which Gavi is made. Now, vintners like Elisa and her brilliant mentor, Walter Massa, are ushering in the renaissance of the Colli Tortonesi’s signature wine. Sadly, it’s what’s happening today with Dolcetto, so the rebirth of this superstar gives me hope that the trend of ripping out the Dolcetto vines in favor of Nebbiolo and hazelnuts will end.

Lots of great articles can be found online about Timorasso. I can’t wait to add this precious white wine to my cellar back in Colorado.

Elisa Semino
Elisa Semino at home in her family’s winery in Colli Tortonesi, La Colombera.
A Red for All Tables

A great go to red for nearly every meal is Barbera. Whether bearing the names of Alba, Asti, or Monferrato, Barbera is a versatile red and high quality bottles at great prices from a myriad of producers can be found everywhere. Some of my favorite wineries for Barbera d’Alba are Chiara Boschis – E. Pira e Figli, Elio Altare (now in the hands of his charismatic daughter Silvia), Punset, Cigliuti, Mauro Molino, Paolo Scavino, Matteo Correggia, Monchiero-Carbone, and Albino Rocca (the Gepin is a particular favorite of mine). For Barbera d’Asti, look for Marchesi Alfieri’s queen of their portfolio, Alfiera, and their La Tota named for the last Marchesa of Alfieri, Adele.

This list is far from exhaustive! Check out the Table of Contents of Labor of Lovesince producers like Cantina Marsaglia make a delicious Barbera, but you’ll have to visit them in Castellinaldo d’Alba since their wines are not available in the States.

Table of Contents vinous companions
You can find many vinous companions from the Table of Contents of Labor of Love
King of the Table

Of course, the big daddy of Piemonte’s vineyards is Nebbiolo and the two wines consisting of 100% of the noble grape: Barolo and Barbaresco. A wonderful selection of these wines is available in the States, but since I live in Colorado I’ll list some of the producers well represented there: Ca’ del Baio (Barbaresco), Chiara Boschis (Barolo), Elio Altare (Barolo), Paolo Scavino (Barolo), Oddero (Barolo), Albino Rocca (Barbaresco), Cigliuti (Barbaresco), Mauro Molino (Barolo), Marchesi di Grésy (Barbaresco), GD Vajra (Barolo), Cantina Gigi Rosso (Barolo), Punset (Barbaresco), Cascina delle Rose (Barbaresco), Cantina del Pino (Barbaresco), Gaja, (Barolo and Barbaresco), Marchesi di Barolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), and Sottimano (Barbaresco). This is NOT an exhaustive list and there are many more that I enjoy, but these are readily available in Colorado, except for Cascina delle Rose…sadly so…but their USA presence is growing.

As an aside, each one of these wineries produces fabulous Barbera as well.

The Nebbiolo of Langhe is the best known, but the grape also flourishes in Roero and in Alto Piemonte. Each of the Arneis producers listed above makes excellent Roero Nebbiolo, including Matteo Correggia, the winery bearing the name of the late Roero visionary who believed in the grape’s potential in the terroir of Roero. His belief in Roero Nebbiolo was well-founded. Gattinerra in Alto Piemonte is home to Lorella Antoniollo and her family’s winery. If you haven’t tried the Alto Piemonte Nebbioli, treat yourself to some from this excellent winery.

Not in the market for the higher prices of Barolo and Barbaresco, but love Nebbiolo? Look for declassified versions of the grape, such as Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba from any the producers I’m mentioned and in my table of contents. You will not be disappointed with the gems coming out of Piemonte’s Nebbiolo vineyards whether they sport the DOCG label or not. If a producer is known for her or his Barolo or Barbaresco, their other Nebbiolo wines deserve a place on your table. Currently, our house red is Albino Rocca “Rosso di Rocca” Langhe Nebbiolo 2017.  Excellent wine and a particularly good value for money.

Hint, can’t find these wines at your favorite bottle shop? See below at the end of the post two names of great wine sleuths who can source just about anything.

Chiara Boschis
Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis holding Nebbiolo must after another successful harvest in 2015.
Photo credit: Elisabetta Vacchetto
Sweet Endings

Now for dessert. Amongst the “sweet” choices there are the sweeter versions such Passito made from grapes dried before vinification and there are the light (5.5% alcohol), bubbly ones such as Moscato d’Asti. There was a time when Moscato d’Asti was the wine the Savoy royals sought and Monferrato eclipsed Barolo as the epicenter of Piemonte wine. Before there was the King of Wines (Barolo, according to many), there was the Queen of Wines. Those from the Monferrato region are very special. My two favorites are Cà d’Gal (not available in Colorado – yet), particularly Alessandro Boido’s old vine Moscato, and Marenco Scrapona (available in Colorado from Vias). Passito Bric du Liun from Deltetto is 100% Arneis and is equally comfortable as a pairing for foie gras at the beginning of a festive meal as it is at the end with dolce. I’m a fan of Brachetto d’Acqui from Marenco and their two passiti – Moscato and Brachetto. Save a bottle of Moscato for your “day after” breakfast. Marenco’s Scrapona is often on our table for summer Sunday brunch.

Marenco Scrapona
My Sunday brunch favorite!
And for the Tummy

We can’t forget my favorite digestivo, Barolo Chinato. The much-loved end to a great meal is gaining popularity in the States…finally…but still hard to find. My May 2018 Labor of Love tour guests of wine educators from Sheral Schowe’s Wasatch Academy of Wine finished most every meal with Chinato. The experts know about the delights of this prized digestivo.

Wine Searcher says it best in their concise description of this complex digestive with pharmacological roots:

“[An] aromatic beverage differs to the ‘classic’ Barolo through its production method, which involves the infusion of Barolo wine with China Calissaya bark (quinine bark, translated in Italian as china, hence the wine’s name chinato). Up to 21 other herbs and spices, including rhubarb roots, gentian, orange peels, cloves and cardamom seeds, are also added to the mix. This process is a slow maceration at room temperature for around eight weeks. The aromatized wine is then fortified to 16% alcohol and matured in small barrels for up to one year.

This Barolo wine is generally characterized by its bittersweet aromas and lingering, smooth aftertaste. It is usually consumed as an after-dinner drink, either as a dessert wine or a digestif. It is also considered an excellent accompaniment to dark chocolate, or it can be served as an aperitif with soda and ice (similar to sweet vermouth).”

So if that tickles your fancy — and it should — go forth and seek out brands such as CocchiG.D. Vajra, and, of course, Cappellano, the family of the 19th century creator of this unusually delicious drink, pharmacist Giuseppe Cappellano.

But That’s Not All

I’ve only touched on most commonly known varietals of the Piemonte vinous landscape, and one up-and-coming superstar, Timorasso. There is a long list on other varietals you should try this holiday season, such as Pelaverga, Ruché, Freisa, and  Erbaluce, to name but a few. Exploration is fun, especially when it comes to a region like Piemonte with such an expansive choice of varietals.

Remember, it’s all about the experience. Discovery is a wonderful experience!

Shopping Tips

Colorado: Here are a few of the importers working in Colorado that I can highly recommend: Giuliana Imports, Old World Wines, Dalla Terra, Indigenous, and Vias. All have some great choices. Don’t just read the front label on the wine bottle. The back label tells you a great deal about the wine and who’s behind, including the importer. Importers like these take great care in choosing the producers they represent. You can’t go wrong with any of their names on the bottle.

Beyond (and in) Colorado: One of the best sources I’ve found for wine from Piemonte (and most anywhere else) is John Rittmaster at Prima Vini Wine Merchants in Walnut Creek, CA. Not only does John do dynamite wine events in his shop and next door restaurant Prima, he can find just about anything at competitive prices.  Do yourself a favor and get on his mailing list so you don’t miss any great deals and events.

Straight from the Source: This tip is for oenophiles across the globe. If you want a gastronome’s dream bike tour, join Davide Pasquero of Terroir Selection in wine countries across Europe, particularly in his home region of Piemonte. If you want Piemonte wines straight from the source — particularly up-and-coming producers — Davide is the expert for you. His personal relationships with producers, passion, and great depth of wine knowledge makes him a perfect source for discerning oenophiles looking for just the right wines. Piemonte is not his only region of expertise. Checkout his website for more regions he covers. Pretty much everywhere. Like John Rittmaster, Davide is a wine sleuth. If he can’t find it, it’s probably not available anywhere.

Davide Pasquero
Davide Pasquero, Wine Sleuth, of Terroir Selection in Treiso, Piemonte.

What started out as a quick Facebook post morphed into something bigger. It always does when I start talking about my beloved second home, Piemonte. I hope I’ve given you some helpful, not too technical, tips for wine choices this holiday season…and beyond.

Whatever you choose, you really can’t go wrong if you invite the wine producers into your home vis-à-vis their wines and the stories behind their labels. Vinous companions for your holiday celebrations should not be limited to those you know. It’s a great time to meet new vintners through their labor of love.

Now, onward to the Christmas Holidays. Buon Natale!

Salute tutti!


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!)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 8.37.09 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 9.18.47 PM

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


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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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