Last Thursday was no ordinary day. Of course, as every year, on June 2 Italy celebrated the Republic Day. But this year there was another important event taking place on this date in the world of wine: at Ca’ del Baio, in the beautiful scenario of Treiso vineyards and under a light rain, American writer Suzanne Hoffman presented her new book, a loving tribute to the wine families of Piemonte where women played and still play a major role in preserving traditions while fostering innovation in the name of their love for the hard work called winemaking.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that the book launch took place on that day as Suzanne’s “Labor of Love” is more than a simple book about wine. In fact, it’s completely different from any previous work of its kind. Passion, respect and admiration shine through each and every one of the stories and portraits in the book, in the same way as Suzanne could barely control her emotion while sharing with her audience the most touching encounters and the individual life stories that urged her to write the book. To the 22 wine families in the book and to all her readers, she asked never to forget these examples of true Piemontese life and values, and to pass down this prized legacy to the future generations, to people in Italy and worldwide, because they are part of the history and culture of this beautiful region.
Maurizio Rosso, who introduced the author to the public at Ca’ del Baio, chose this passage from the first chapter of the book to recreate the atmosphere that accompanied Suzanne and her husband during their “16 years of research and friendship” in the hills of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato:
“It was springtime, a delightful season in the hills of Barbaresco, although true Piemontephiles like me find any season in the gastronomically rich region inviting, no matter how cold or gray. The vineyards were awakening after their long winter slumber and the sun chased away the foggy mornings. Coming from Switzerland, where it was still winter, my husband, Dani, and I needed sunshine.”
And they found it, not much in the rigid Piemonte climate, but in the smiles and generosity of the people they met there, who confided to her family stories since then mostly untold, intertwined with historical events such as World War II, the German occupation and the post-war political instability. Suzanne launched a successful project on Kickstarter in April to raise funds for the printing of “Labor of Love” and decided to publish independently, in order to have the book ready as soon as possible. In fact, many of the people who inspired her and that she interviewed are very old: to procrastinate would have meant some of them would probably have not been there anymore for the book launch.
There are so many things I could say about this wonderful book and the stories it tells, but nothing will ever be like reading it first-hand. So please do, possibly, as Suzanne suggested to me signing my copy of the book, “savour the pleasures of the written word enjoying a glass of Piemontese wine!“