About this project
I made my funding goal with room to spare. What a wonderful, humbling experience it has been to receive so much support from around the world.
Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte will be available in Europe in June 2016 and in the US in July. Stay tuned for updates on my WineFamilies.com blog.
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
It could have been an opera; it could have been a novel...
I lived and worked in Switzerland for 20 years. Traveling the short distance to the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato regions of Piemonte pulled me into another world that I instinctively understood and felt as though I belonged to. I heard stories drawing me into an immense 19th century novel of sacrifice, joy, loss, and triumph. The lives of these families – some aristocratic, some rising from abject poverty – were worthy of great Italian opera plots. All the while I was witnessing a tremendously moving process – an agrarian society coping with seismic change.
The shedding of societal norms that kept women in the shadows – queens in their houses, but serfs in the wineries and vineyards – meant that wine family women could now share control of their families’ patrimonies, and take a firm hand in shaping their own destinies. Daughters began to take the reins of some of the most famous wine brands in the region, unimaginable only a few decades ago. To see an entire generation of women rapidly striding into the forecourt of the region’s lifeblood industry awed me.
Oh, my – I felt such urgency to tell the story of this transformation, and to tell it as the wine families themselves experienced it. Time was of the essence. Many patriarchs and matriarchs were approaching their 90th year. Would I tell their stories in time for them to read the book?
Who are my wine families?
I chose 22 diverse wine families for my book, plus the most famous wine family woman of all, the blessed 19th-century vintner, Giulia Colbert Falletti, Marchesa di Barolo. Do you see names you know?
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 Love will be a beautiful 9-1/4” x 11-1/2” (23.5 cm x 29 cm), 320-page hardcover, jacketed book containing 22 chapters about the wine families, plus an introductory chapter on Giulia Colbert Falletti, the Marchesa di Barolo, considered to be the mother of modern day Barolo wine. It will look like a coffee table book, but read like a novel. The chapters were written to be read independently, but will captivate readers such that they may find it hard to put down this treasure.
Each chapter begins with a genealogy of the family to provide a generational roadmap for the reader, particularly useful for those families with more than eight generations on the land they now farm.
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 (myself included).
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 Design in Boulder, Colorado, put her more than 30 years of experience to work designing the entire book. Her front cover design featuring the hands of Barolo vintner Chiara Boschis 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 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
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.
Looking far and wide for the best price, we originally planned to print 3,000 copies in China, but we could not find the quality we sought. Therefore, we chose to print 2,000 copies in Italy where the cost is substantially higher, but the quality superb. This was a smaller print run than what could satisfy the demand for the book. The urgent need to print an additional 1,000 copies is what brought me to Kickstarter. In every other way the project is fully financed.
Printing an additional 1,000 copies requires an additional $13,000 which is my Kickstarter goal.
Now, why pay more? Why not follow the crowd to the cheapest option?
For the sake of the families I have come to know so well, I want to confer on my book the dignity of beauty and archival quality in publishing. My aim is to match symbolically the process of making a venerable wine, delivering it carefully and lovingly to the world. Whoever would pay more to serve and drink a great wine will understand choosing beauty and quality in publishing, for the effect it has on everyone involved.
There are many fun ways that you can support Labor of Love. The book’s stunning copyrighted cover art of a famous woman winemaker’s tender, yet gritty hands, has been reproduced on several items that will become keepsakes and are only available here during this limited time.
- Labor of Love Cover Art #PiemonteisPiemonte t-shirts (#PIEMONTEISPIEMONTE on front, cover art on back)
- Labor of Love Cover Art #PiemonteisPiemonte canvas totes
- Labor of Love Cover Art #PiemonteisPiemonte canvas wine bags
- Labor of Love Cover Art Canvas Print
- Signed limited first edition copies of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte
- Signed limited first edition copies of Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte also signed by at least one member of each Labor of Love family.
- Piemonte Wine Family Experiences
- Beaver Creek, Colorado Labor of Love Ski Experience with the author
Please support my labor of love
I’m asking you, on behalf of the families I’ve come to know so well, to support my Kickstarter campaign to accelerate the printing of the additional 1,000 copies our market demands and help me reach my goal of $13,000. Support will ensure the book not only is properly launched and marketed but will accelerate a second printing. And you will increase the happiness of many wonderful people who work ceaselessly to bring you the wines of their remote, sometimes harsh, and very beautiful homeland.
Remember Kickstarter's policy: If this project is successfully funded, your card will be charged when the project reaches its funding deadline. If the project does not reach its funding goal, your card is never charged. But with your support my campaign no doubt will be successful.
Risks and challenges
Labor of Love is complete. We have an excellent working relationship with VeronaLibri and we are on schedule to launch the book on June 2, 2016, in Barbaresco, Italy. Once my Kickstarter campaign is successfully completed, I can order the additional 1,000 books from VeronaLibri. The risk is that we will run out of books from the first printing too soon to satisfy demand, necessitating a wait to get in line for printing 1,000 more copies. That delay may hamper sales of the additional books. Other than that potential delay, little risk exists since the work has already been completed. But life is full of challenges and shipping pallets of books to America is always a risky proposition. That risk, however, is covered by insurance.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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