By Valerie Quintanilla
The food, the culture, and of course the people are nearly as intoxicating as the wines of Piedmont Italy. All have now firmly planted themselves in my heart and soul. Yes, if home is where the heart is, then mine has certainly found a new one. Travel to Piedmont, Italy is an amazing experience. One I feel like to have to done twice.
My memories of the week make a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors, tastes, sounds, and smells:
- Robert and Leslie took me to a sushi dinner at the home of Rosanna and Marco, the owners of the B&B in Piedmont where I was staying. A full on sushi spread, cooked by two brilliant Japanese chefs. Yes, sushi in rural Piedmont.
- I got to see the oldest wine cellar in Neive as owner, Adriana, toured us through her cellar room with 30 to 40 year old bottis.
- My one-day Aussie hiking guide, Kerrie, took me to taste at a winery with a dolcetto made from a pre-phylloxera vineyard.
- At Pelissero Pasquale(one of Neive’s oldest Barbaresco producers) I helped Leslie and Ornella cook lunch for the harvest workers as they picked the moscato. Ornella is the only woman to own a winery in Neive. As one of three daughters (no sons), she carries on her father’s legacy,
despite early skepticism from those around her. During lunch prep the beautiful and bubbly fun Ornella walked me through her vineyards, insisting I taste the different varieties, fresh from the vine.
- I even got to text with Sergio Esposito, author of one of my all time favorite books, Passion on the Vine, as we tried to synch up during my stay. He was gracious enough to try to make up for a not-so-great experience in NYC at his wine shop, Italian Wine Merchants last year. I emailed him prior to the trip to let him know I’d be in NYC in October and asked for suggestions on wineries in Piedmont during my trip. He was in Italy at the same time and gave me his Italian cell phone number so we could meet up. We didn’t end up raising a glass together as his travel route ended up not crossing with mine, but he did try. When an Italian says to call or contact them, turns out they mean it.
- I went to a business dinner with local restaurateurs, a winery rep, and two wine buyers from North Carolina – Vito and Giovanni, originally from Southern Italy. (I swear, Vito actually said, “forget aboutit.”)
- Robert got me to drink a coffee drink. When giving Val caffeine, it’s truly: “Proceed at your own risk!” He took me to his favorite little cafe/bar in Neive. The bartender makes a darn good iced coffee martini thingy! And, I’m pleased to report there were no casualties (don’t worry people, I won’t make a habit of it!)
Whose life is this anyway? Surely not that shy little girl from Vancouver, Wash. (True story all you eyebrow raisers, I was a painfully shy kiddo.)
But in a little Italian paradise called Piemonte I found myself sipping some of the world’s best wines with locals, expats, and tourists from all around.
Yes, I am a lucky gal and beyond thankful for my times in Italy.
My adventure was so magical that I forgot to think about the next week, next month – sometimes even the next day. I hope to find a way to integrate that into the hustle and bustle of life back home.
Until next time, Italy! Ciao ciao! And, grazie mille.
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