Not so long ago, the Piemontese winemaking legacy was closed to women. However, since the appearance of her first vintage in 1990, Barolo luminary, Chiara Boschis, of E. Pira & Figli, has been blazing a trail of success for the next generation of Piemontese women of the vines.
In 1980, Boschis persuaded her father Franco of Giacomo Borgogno e Figli to purchase the Pira winery when his friend Luigi Pira died. With no male heirs left, the legendary generations-old Pira winemaking family name teetered on the brink of extinction.
The idea of woman wine producer was virtually unheard of in Piemonte at that time. Consequently, it wasn’t an easy sell for Boschis, but she eventually managed to convince her father she could successfully run the winery. The Pira vineyards, including parcels in the prized Cannubi zone, and the winery would become the launching pad of Boschis’ luminous career.
Boschis stepped out of the cultural shadows, began working beside her father where she soaked up his vast knowledge. She eventually assumed full control of the winery in time for the 1990 vintage.
From the start, Boschis produced stellar wines and created her own respected brand that has kept the Pira name alive for future generations. After more than two decades of living next to her vineyards and above her cellar where she works her oenological magic to produce her precious wines, Boschis has never looked back.
Boschis poetically describes her winemaking philosophy with words such as “joy,” “passion” and “love” garnishing her language. The biggest change in her generation was not only the women entering winemaking, but also giving more attention to the vineyards.
“You cannot abandon the fruit in the vineyard during the growing season,” she warns. The work in the vineyards is 80 percent of the process. The other 20 percent is in the cellar. It’s logical that without the best fruit possible, nothing in the cellar will change mediocre grapes into stellar wines.
Boschis is very much married to the land. With her brother Giorgio, who left Borgogno and joined her at Pira in 2010, she makes beautiful, award-winning wines. Her brother Cesare also left Borogono and now works with his sister and eight others in an “ethical” project to preserve the culture and production of Piemonte’s legendary Castelmagno cheese. Together, the close-knit siblings strive to insure a bright future for Piemonte’s agricultural heritage.
A bit of Barolo in Colorado
Steve Lewis of Giuliana Imports represents Boschis in Colorado, thus providing Coloradans access to the E. Pira wines. At Zino Ristorante in Edwards, diners can find some of Boschis’ wines on the restaurant’s excellent wine list. Partner-Executive Chef Nick Haley’s Piemonte-inspired menu continues to please locals and visitors alike, providing perfect pairing options for Boschis’ wines.
Haley trained at the prestigious Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Costigliole d’Asti in Piemonte, where he developed his passion for the region’s abundant culinary and vinous offerings.
Gastronomes can enjoy the fusion of Chiara Boschis’ magical wines and Haley’s creative Piemontese cuisine on Wednesday evening at Zino.
Suzanne Hoffman is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. Her blogs are www.suziknowsbest.com and www.winefamilies.com. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.