Farm Letter by Susan Gelpke
September, 2013 TEN YEARS LATER
Ten years have passed since I wrote the Letter to Our Guests. It was our story, then, from my particular perspective. Yet each one of us would have a slightly different story to tell, given the opportunity. The frame is the same although the style would be different.
Each one of us identifies with a particular time in the farm’s evolution and how that time of coming (or being) here influenced them. At that moment, shortly after Wendel’s death, the original letter had seemed a necessary declaration of intent telling of who we were and what we wanted from this life. It was a period of definition, a period of dividing responsibilities and defining goals in both our individual and in our collective lives.
Till had come with his father to live in Corzano when he was a little boy; Joshi had come with his mother Wendel’s sister Katerina’s family, when he was thirteen; Ari, Sibilla and Aglaia were born in Paterno; Toni came from London when she was sixteen, met Joshi and stayed; I came at twenty-eight from a life in cities. Each of us found something compelling and moving in the experience of living here that kept us here in the eclectic family that we have become.
It is a long time, ten years, and I look back now at those challenging and exciting decades of our life here and see them tinged a sepia hue both romantic and remote. I suppose that that is to be expected. Where you have grown to maturity, where you have had your children, where you have been tested and called upon to give the most of yourself is most often the place you feel most alive to your surroundings.
In 2001 another chapter began for us. A long considered underground wine cellar was designed and ultimately built with space adjacent to Corzano combining all aspects of the wine production. Until then the various aspects of the work had been distributed over the Corzano complex in ancient rooms dank with history. The new cellar is a wonderful building, vastly more spacious than the building we used before where, nonetheless, some of our most lauded wines had been created.
Around 2009 we began the process of centralizing the work on the farm; the dairy, the office, the farm shop and tasting room moved to the Corzano side of the farm. The dairy took over the space that had been used as the wine cellar. This space was modernized and a high quality cheese making facility now occupies it. Toni is still the inventive and experimental cheese maker that she has long been. The farm shop has become a focus for agriturismo guests and clients interested in purchasing our products as well as for tastings.
On the Paterno side of the farm the stables house sheep, pigs and horses. The stable complex continues to evolve. Recently a new feeding belt was installed and solar panels sit on the stable roof generating power. Erta and Fallocchio, the two large rental houses on the Paterno hill, continue to welcome guests. A new swimming pool, constructed a few years ago in the nearby field, overlooks the valley between our two hills.
If my first letter was an attempt to evoke the pioneer spirit of the first decades this second chapter should speak of how we have become entrepreneurial. Creating a high quality product was the first incentive to our lives, now the marketing and sale of these products has been a further skill learned. Our work requires us now to be faithful to and to maintain the reputation for excellence that has become our standard.
On the family side, things have also developed. Tillo’s girls Tosca and Nada are
now young school girls; Joshi and Toni’s children are university students or are working in textiles design and sale. William, one of the twins, is studying wine making in Torino. Pascal, Joshi’s brother, flies larger and larger hot air balloons and his son Oliver just earned his pilots’s license as well. Oliver also has a forging studio in a studio at Paterno where he makes Damascus blades. One son from both families, Tim and Rudi, studies architecture abroad.
Two of my daughters, Sibilla and Arianna, have had baby boys just a few months apart in 2013. Sibilla is living in Singapore with her companion and baby and is translating. Their hope is to eventually return to the farm and open a small restaurant.
Arianna has been helping Joshi direct the farm since 2004 and is now responsible for the cellar. Her little boy, Consti, is growing up with the perfume of wine must impregnating his clothes. As of this writing Ari is expecting her second child, due to arrive in time for our annual Easter farm party. Ari’s companion, Stefan, has a carpentry studio in Paterno. Aglaia, my little daughter and Eli, Joshi and Toni’s daughter, who grew up together on the farm, are working abroad at present but come often to visit, although Eli makes her annual pilgrimage home to do the olive harvest.
‘The more things change the more they stay the same’, the old adage tell us and
I think that is true of us, too. When there is indecision among us it is enough to ask ourselves of the question: what would Wendel have done. This does not mean that we will follow his perceived route but that we will remain loyal to his independent spirit and courage in making those decisions. We share the duty to his legacy to live a life helping each other to grow and sharing in the well being, emotional and physical, that this life offers us.
I hope that the next update will not take a decade to write and that we will continue to develop and thrive so that I will have even more to add in my next writing.