My favorite Italian wine writer to follow is Mauro Fermariello. His website, Winestories, is a passionate and carefully curated collection of just that: Wine Stories. Recently he posted his experience with Chiara Boschis, along with this lovely quote from the First Lady of Barolo herself:
“From my generation in Barolo, I was the first woman to really direct a winery. Now it is normal for girls to work in the wineries, but even in the early ’90’s I was an exception to the rule. The women of the Langhe have always been the strongest links of the families, occupying themselves in all aspects of family affairs, even sometimes financially; all too often the men wasted their money in a night of card games. Women were also valuable in the vineyards- capable and fast. Eventually there were women who dedicated themselves to public relations, administration and sometimes sales; but in the cellar, no, I was the only one.“
We lovingly refer to Chiara as the ‘First Lady of Barolo”. Now you understand why. It’s easy to take the status quo for granted- today it is common for women to make wine, own wineries, inherit family estates, and complete an education in oenology. However if you go back 50 or 60 years, this was not the case. Traditional gender roles in Italy (and elsewhere) would have prevented this possibility.
Somebody had to break the mold, and forge a new definition of “normal”. Thank you, Chiara Boschis, for your bravery, your fortitude and your unique ability to change the whole world, even just a little bit, for the better.