HILBERG – PASQUERO
Michele Pasquero and Annette Hilberg
I can’t say whether my wine speaks more German or Italian, or whether it’s creative and passionate rather than rational an well ordered, but it certainly unites our different temperaments, mine and that of my husband Michele, a thoroughbred Piedmontese. I deeply belief that our wine, autochthonous and typical, is polyhedral: with the fresh and musical personality of the Neo-Latin branch, the precise, sharp and clear personality of the German, character and why not? – also the typical and unique aspect of the Piedmontese dialect. A mixture that, moreover, has also permeated me, but without making me lose anything of my original culture. It has enriched and softened me, in this country so far away from Saxon mists and fogs.
For me, as for many other foreigners, Italy was and is the land of dreams, the ideal place to take refuge, the “sunny Land of Gods”. A flight, be it understood, towards an ideal elsewhere, a country where it was and is possible to make a voyage in search of the deepest things that sustain your spirit. In past centuries there were notable examples of Germans who, in love with Italy, left everything to come here. In the 18th century Goethe himself slipped away from his ministerial post in Weimar, suffocated by rigid German determinism, and in the “Bel Paese” began a journey which, through the beauties of this land, led him to the search for and discovery of his soul.
The same thing happened to me, I too felt restricted in my job as a nurse. Through it was involving and useful work it ended up by suffocating my creativity. I was about 20 and I remember wondering whether I’d have the strength to spend all my life walking up and down hospital wards or whether it might be better to change job.
Something perhaps less useful with regard to alleviating the suffering of others but more in line with my free and open character. I came to Italy in the early 1980’s attracted by the newborn ecology movement and the roads opened up by organic farming. Then I meet my husband who was also interested in these new forms of agriculture. I fell in love, as people do at twenty, and I settled here, beginning a new journey through wine, the countryside and myself, smoothing down certain rough edges and cultural severities in my character and enriching my spirit and soul with the “Beautiful” that is found everywhere here. I guess nobody appreciates the “Beautiful” as much as German do. According to Goethe, they know how to seek in the smallest things, in the tiniest details where God reveals himself. And I enriched myself with all this discovering it daily: in the faces of the local farmers, in their ancient wisdom, in these mosaics of vines in continuous interweave, in the seasons and in my wine. Everything here speaks to me of a powerful, important past to which I proudly feel I belong. In no other place do I feel my curiosity about life so fully satisfied, and I go on observing everything in a succession of continual discoveries which, day after day, put me in communion with this land of Piedmont.
I can assure you that the initial impact was far from easy. It took a few years to gain acceptance. But in the end, through the attitude I demonstrated in my work – which I do with enthusiasm and passion – I managed to build up a relationship of mutual
esteem and respect. I believe I belong to that category of Germans who over the centuries, precisely because they were not colonizers, have been able to get along in any part of the world, creating productive activities and bringing well-being to the territory where they settled. With this spirit, which I now recognize in myself, I in the same way might have raised horses in Texas, tended coffee plantations in Kenya or grown cotton in Central America. I could have gone anywhere, Africa or Asia, but wherever I might have gone, Italy is the country I would have missed most of all.
My dream has come true right here in this beautiful region. My only regret is not having possessed greater communicative and diplomatic skills. They certainly would’ve been a big help to me for mutual understanding and a better community life. I don’t want to sound trite by declaring that what brought me here was the sun, love and the search for a deeper meaning of life, but I also know very well that it isn’t exactly a bed of roses. Here as elsewhere there are a lot of things that aren’t going well, and it saddens me to note the spread of a worrying disinterest in the territory, in the culture that animates it and the memory that feeds it, something have become deeply attached to with time. It isn’t hard for me to hear the voices of the farmers in the air or the women calling the kids away from their games, in a succession of perfumes and odors that enter your soul and remain impressed on your memory. It isn’t hard for me to lose myself among the rows in my vineyards or amid the odor of must in the cellar; nor is it hard for me to fall in love with all this. I’d like the most beautiful part of this territory to remain intact forever, with the land protected and cared for. I hope that the balance between man and nature, constructed by the millenary experience of farmers, will remain stable in its renewal and will grow without the destructive wind of globalization overwhelming the “sunny Land of the Gods”.