Arrived in Milan. It was a delayed flight, so I quickly got through customs to meet my driver, Andrea, who was already waiting for me. It would be my second visit to Barolo in four weeks. The drive itself was slightly harrowing, but this was Italy and he mastered that manual transmission in and out of traffic so effortlessly, I wasn’t worried. OK, maybe I was putting my foot on the imaginary brake from time to time.
Soon outside my driver’s side window, verdant rolling hills started to appear, followed by groves of hazelnut trees, hilltop castles and more hills. After maneuvering through swift round-abouts and curvy roads we arrived at my destination. As idyllic and sleepy Barolo appears to be, there exists an energy here and throughout the region – the people, the wine, the food, the land. It’s beautiful and magical.
I joined a friend and colleague from my hometown who was also attending the week-long wine event and by the end of that first day, I met 15 more new friends from all over the world – wine writers, sommeliers, beverage directors, educators, importers, wine producers.
Later, after leaving an incredibly memorable dinner at Laconda Del Pilone in Alba, several of us walked down a gravel driveway to meet our shuttle. Then suddenly a single firefly appeared amidst the vines. It was the first firefly I ever saw in my life. I was captivated. Realizing my excitement, my friend gingerly cupped his hands around the little glow-bug ever so briefly and when he opened his hands, the flashing had stopped. Time to release it.
What happened after that night was a week of wine tastings and dinners, visits to wineries and a quaint little cork screw museum, a light snack and Champagne in a hip tasting room called La Vite Turchese, an interactive soil seminar with G.D. Vajra, and other emotional moments that all answer the question to why I write about wine.
But that night with the firefly – a light so dainty and luminescent dancing in the vineyards under a waning moon in Barolo, of all places….
Surely it was a sign that even the smallest of things are capable of illuminating inspiration.
(from my journal)
I have been fortunate to meet the most incredible individuals, whether they are people in my own city, or places afar. Thank you to those who have taken this wine journey with me.