We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us ~ Anonymous

Oh, Covid… you’re such a marplot!

[Images are the property of CASTELLO Di GABIANO, except where noted.]

I could have been right here in November, if life didn’t include you, Covid. I would have left my home base in Sonoma County, flying into Piedmont, Italy; and savoring the adventure, my curiosity continually being piqued.  I’d be taking photos and then finding the right words to match that exact second in time, frozen by my lens for infinite views. Instead, I’m doing it backward; finding the right images worthy of this story.

It’s not hard to do, however, given this location, right? And, I’m still finding a certain satisfaction in this adventure, as well. It it’s not the same as being there, of course; but, this is all so very special. I had a wonderful ZOOM meeting with proprietor Marquis Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno. His humility didn’t want for me to get deeply into his title; yet, given his history, it tells a fascinating recounting of how property, as magnificent as this one, has been handed down for generations, now into his hands.


[Purchased image]

I had a dream once, it was all in Italian. A discussion was happening, between a child to my right, an interpreter in the middle, and an old man to my left. I was south in the quadrant. The old man was talking to the child, with the banter going back and forth between the old man and the child… all with the help of the interpreter. I was observing. I’ve never studied Italian, but have studied French and Spanish. My dream was all in Italian. I’ve never spoken – in this lifetime – Italian; but, I was understanding e-v-e-r-y  w-o-r-d. This was from the point of the old man beginning the conversation in Italian. I was so startled that I just immediately woke up. Jose… “I just had a dream in Italian, and I understood every word! What does it mean?” He said, “You were Italian in a past life; now, go back to sleep.” I have also always felt that in a past life I was an aging woman in Venice, washing and then hanging clothes on a suspended line, over a canal, and the line was also attached to a house across the canal. We were neighbors, yelling back and forth, in our daily lives.

So, now you know how much I’m still very excited to know where I WOULD have just been, through exploring this destination in a parallel universe.


Entering a new region is always exciting. I really enjoy the exploration of all things: from history and their artistic cultures; to their people, foods, and to their wines.

It’s always about how did this begin, the important developments, and where are you now? I usually find common ground, due to European roots.

Here I am in Piedmont at Castello di Gabiano, and I know I’ve just had my breath completely taken away, from their extraordinary vistas. The stately Italian Alps in their backyard, somehow makes me feel so inconsequential, yet so alive. Words wouldn’t come easily, because I’d be in such awe.

On a similar trip, a colleague Dan said to me, “Com’mon, Jo.” I was always behind with my camera. I have great shots from a past Italian visit. Somehow I think Castello Di Gabiano would also make me a better photographer, looking for even more money shots.

In a systematic way, my tour would have begun in their vineyard.

FROM THE WINERY: The Vineyards

The vineyards are located entirely in Gabiano, at the ideal height of 300 meters. The privileged position facing the wind arriving directly from the Alps creates a great temperature excursion between day and t night: a characteristic that facilitates the creation of intense and typical aromas, easily recognized during the wine tasting. In those partly ancient vineyards, some going back more than 100 years; the work on the vine is manual, in order to obtain a better quality of the grape. The cultivation of the soil, such as the plant treatment, follows a strict program completely respectful to the environment.

Next, we would segue into their wine cellar.

FROM THE WINERY: The Cellars (minor edits for American reading ease)

Wine aging occurs in the cellars under the Castle, dating back to the 1200s; since that period is destined to also continue to be our wine storage. Our prestigious bottle collection is stored, to be passed down from one generation to another.

Those natural cellars have been created through digging underground, into the local rock on the two sides, to assure a constant temperature all year long. This is the best ambiance for accurate aging.

The room designed for our barriques was, right from the inception, in different sectors. This allows for our winemakers to distinguish the oak fermentation, according to the vintage and the different vineyards.

And, now would be time to taste the wines

But, this has to be separate Part 2. And my curiosity is completely piqued.

The winery proclaims: “The wines of this ‘small land’ differ completely from others produced in other areas from Piemont.”

Let me just say this… I could be there and drink a wine that’s got the date of my birth on it… DATE of my birth. Holy Mother of God… I’d be so ready to taste; alas, I will continue with the wines portion of this story to be written in the next Part 2. It’s definitely and singularly worthy as the end result of this incredible opportunity in life.


For the last 400 years, the Marquises Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani have been committed to producing quality wines. It’s a 642-acre estate, with 52 of those acres being planted to wine vines. The commune’s archives of the thirteenth century first mentioned the quality of the grapes and the wine production of Gabiano.

Today Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno is the last Marquis of Gabiano. He and his wife Emanuela are passionate, determined, and above all else, totally committed to enriching their local terroir and environment. In this way, they’re assured that the winemaking tradition of their family, updated with the current enology knowledge, are keeping their high-quality standards alive and well.

The castle has a mysterious labyrinth. Adventure is now tugging at the core of my existence. I could seriously stay here for a long time, just exploring.

FROM THEIR SITE: The labyrinth of the castle of Gabiano is one of the very few Italian gardens of exceptional importance; not only for its rarity, but also for the historic period in which it was made. It dates back to the thirties of the twentieth century. The labyrinth of Gabiano evokes a return to the past and is part of the restoration project entrusted by Marquise Matilde Giustiniani Parmesan Architect Lamberto Cusani, to whom we owe the present appearance of the neo-medieval castle and outbuildings.

The location of the labyrinth in the heart of the park emphasizes the contrast between the rigid lines and geometric plant and the surrounding, natural park. It recalls the medieval concept of the forest as a natural maze (park); and, the labyrinth is an artificial wilderness, where nature is strictly controlled and manipulated by man.

What would wine be, but if not for food. I looked at their images of the Restaurant 3 Orologi, and shivered… white truffle soup… people.

In the “but wait, there’s still more” category: Luxury Suites. Nuff said… There, I feel a little better, now. I got to share what would have been, and the invitation is still open, so I’ll have my own images, when Covid stops it’s invasion.

This is where Part 1 ends for today, as my ZOOM conversation is worthy of a compete Part 2. Today you met Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno and his world. Next, you’ll meet his wines.

Thank you to Wine Business for adding this story as a wine blog feature.