I spent a good number of years high-tailing it off for Italy every chance I got, grabbing the latest Fiat rental and jetting out for the next new adventure. A village I’d never been to, grape I’d never heard of, wine I’d never tried, friend I’d never met—any new experience that would bring me closer to understanding Italian wine—I was down.
I ran hills through muddy vineyards, harvested grapes in Barolo and Barbaresco, slid through snow storms, melted in the heat, got lost (both figuratively and literally), found my way, wrote notes in my journal, took pictures, and then I started writing stories. When people started reading, I wrote more stories. I kept going back: exploring, documenting, sharing.
The world of Italian wines is a world in and of itself. When you immerse yourself in it and force yourself to understand it, not just look at it from afar, you feel it: love, loyalty, pride, energy, creativity, earth, wind. You see a land with a soul. You see wine with soul. At least I do. In it I have learned countless lessons, not just about the wines, but also about myself. Where I am today in every way is because of my obsession with Italy and its wines.
But why Italy? The short answer is that I don’t really know why.
The “less short” answer is this. My parents gave me an Italian name simply because they liked it: Marcella. I’m not Italian by heritage but my name is. I honestly never gave Italy a whole lot of thought until—it seems—after every time I’d finish up some major schooling. When I could stop and rest, Italy came knocking. After graduating high school was the first time I set foot in the country and immediately knew I’d be back. After graduating college was the first time I ever tried Barolo (in fact it was practically the first time I tried any wine!)—and fell in love immediately. After graduate school I landed a few wine jobs to fill in the space between finding a “real” job but then … well, I ended up never looking back.
My position at Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, California (my hometown) from 2004-2007 finally afforded me the opportunity to delve deep into Italian wine. In 2005 my budding curiosity, and honestly my father’s death combined with the need to reset my entire being, sent me on a plane to Piemonte.
That’s when I arrived in Barolo for the fist time. It grabbed me and never let go.
The Archives of the enotecaMarcella blog from 2010-2016 tell the story of that time. After laying the groundwork in Italy for just about over a decade, I am finally able to open my eyes to other places, to grow. I know that Italy isn’t the only place with soulful wines. But the heart of my wine world will always remain in the hills of La Morra.