Bianca Vetrino was born in Alba on June 13th 1939. From an early age she was involved in social and cultural initiatives in her home town, where she completed her studies and was employed for around a decade by Ferrero SpA.
On marrying she left Alba for Pino Torinese, where she was elected to the Town Council and was Mayor in 1976. She was increasingly attracted by the world of politics, and for three legislatures from 1980 to 1995 she was a member of the Piedmont Regional Council, holding cabinet positions including Deputy Chair between 1985 and 1995.
This demanding institutional commitment did not prevent her from dedicating time to the Order of Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba as well, receiving the Neck-chain from Founder Grand Master, Luciano De Giacomi, on May 12th 1968 during the Order’s second Chapter. She went on to become a Master on the Ruling Council, then Master of the Piedmont Delegation, and since 2011 Grand Master.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour, and Vice President for Italy of the Fédération Internationale des Confréries Bachiques (F.I.C.B.).
Since 1964 she has been an Honorary Citizen of Medford, Oregon, Alba’s twin town in the United State. She is an active Honorary Knight of numerous Brotherhoods in Italy and abroad.
A curiosity: Grand Master De Giacomi said of her at the time of her Induction as a Knight of the Order: “among her talents is the rather rare ability, even for a perfect winemaker, to detect just the faintest whiff of cork in a bottle”.
Masters of the Ruling Council
Luciano Bertello was born in 1955 in Montaldo Roero (CN), graduating in Humanities from Turin University, where he specialized in history and presented a dissertation researching the Roero countryside between the two world wars.
He pursued a career in teaching.
As President and Director of the Enoteca Regionale del Roero from 1996 to 2015 he contributed with ideas, projects, reporting and publications to the economic, tourist and cultural success of Roero wines, providing substantial input in terms of content to the awarding (2014) of UNESCO world heritage status to the vineyard landscapes of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.
He was the architect of the creation and operation of “Sorì Edizioni”, a publishing house specialized in studies of our local history and culture.
He has published books, essays and articles of history, folk culture and the Alba culinary tradition.
He loves being in touch with nature, and travel related to local cultural and human knowledge.
General Manager and Vice President of Barone Pizzini, Silvano Brescianini was born in 1967 in Erbusco (province of Brescia), in the heart of the Franciacorta winegrowing region.
His great-great-grandfather was a vigneron who produced wine in Erbusco long before Franciacorta was recognized as one of the world’s leading appellations for classic method sparkling wines.
Following a FISAR (Italian Federation of Sommeliers, Hoteliers and Restaurateurs) course in 1982, Silvano completed his studies at the Hotel School in Iseo the next year.
In 1984 he got his first job at a Michelin-starred restaurant: Ezio Santin’s Antica Osteria del Ponte in Cassinetta di Lugagnano in the province of Milan, one of only four restaurants in Italy at the time to hold two Michelin stars. It was here as assistant sommelier that Silvano discovered the world of great wines.
In 1988 he left his native Lombardy for Imola, where he began working with Valentino Marcatilli at Ristorante San Domenico. Then he joined the brigade that opened San Domenico New York with the legendary Tony May.
In 1992 he was a founder partner at Barone Pizzini, where he experimented with organic farming and embarked in 2001 on acquiring organic winery certification.
As well as his role in Barone Pizzini, he is also President of the Franciacorta Consortium and Vice-president of the Brescia branch of the Coldiretti farmers’ association.
He lives in Chiuduno (BG) with his wife and two children. He loves quality food and wine, which is why he is so passionate about the Langhe.
Amedeo Cipollini was born on 23-12-1933 in Forlì, where he qualified as an industrial chemist before continuing his studies at several experimental stations, specializing in the Food Industry.
He began his professional life working in CIRIO, and moved on to other companies in the food sector before joining the ENI Group.
In 1960 he was hired by FERRERO SpA, where he continued his career as a technical manager.
Despite his work commitments, he joined the Order of Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba, receiving the Neck-chain from Grand Master Beppe Colla on November 24th 1996; two years later he became a Master on the Ruling Council.
He fell in love with the food and wines of this magnificent area of the Langa as soon as he moved here, to such an extent that Grand Master Beppe Colla introduced him by saying: “… he may not be from the Langa, but he is more of a ‘Langhetto’ than the ‘Langhetti’ themselves”.
Roberto Damonte was born in 1957 in Canale (CN), where he still lives today.
He graduated from the Winemaking School in Alba in 1977, and following his military service he began working in the family wine cellar, Malvirà, where he would later be joined by his brother Massimo and their respective families.
While Massimo – and today his son Francesco – mainly looks after the vineyards, Roberto and his son Giacomo handle operations in the winery.
Since 2003 they have also entered the tourist hospitality sector, with the opening of their Villa Tiboldi agritourism facility.
A farmer with his roots deeply entrenched in the area, he is often on his travels spreading the word about the wines of the Roero.
Davide Fino was born in Torino on December 13th 1972, but he has always lived in Pino Torinese, where he became a Town Councillor at a very young age.
While an undergraduate he furthered his studies in economics at the University of California in San Diego, where he spent a period of his life.
He started out working in finance, before moving on to the commercial sector, and from 2006 construction.
His passion from an early age for food and wine led to his discovery of the Order of the Truffle and Wines of Alba in 2004, and he became a Knight under the aegis of the late Grand Master Alfredo Boratto, with Bianca Vetrino as sponsor.
Since 2011 he has been a Master on the Ruling Council.
He is an A.I.S.-qualified Sommelier, as is his partner Laura, with whom he also shares a love for the Argentine Tango and travelling.
There is always a place in his suitcase for his dancing shoes, and for some excellent bottles of wine on his return home.
Gianfranco Garau was born in Alba in 1981. After graduating from the local winemaking school he went on to obtain a diploma at Turin University’s School of Business Administration, followed by a degree in the Science of Business Administration and Organization. He works in sales and marketing on a number of export markets for the Toys division of Mondo Spa. Since 2006 he has been on Grinzane Cavour Council, and in 2016 he was elected Mayor.
He was Vice President of the Enoteca Regionale di Barolo from 2014 to 2016. He is currently President of the Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour.
He loves good wine and dinner with friends, and his age has not yet stopped him from playing football for Langa Calcio.
Denise Marrone was born in Canale on October 13th 1979, and graduated in Communication Sciences from Turin University in 2003. She is a professional sommelier, qualified tourist guide in English, French and German for the province of Cuneo, technical director of the family’s Italian Delights tour operator business, partner with the rest of her family in the Agricola Gian Piero Marrone winery in La Morra, and a wedding planner out of passion… and by vocation.
She is in love with the Langa, her wines, her cooking and her local area, and is a compulsive traveller for business and pleasure.
She met her fiancé during her induction into the Order at Grinzane Castle, since when fellow Knight of the Truffle and Wines of Alba Emanuele Varino has become not only her “Cavalier sponsor”, but her Cavalier partner for life!
Mariacristina Oddero was born in Alba and lives in La Morra.
She obtained a Degree in Agriculture from Turin University, followed by a 2-year specialization in Vinegrowing and Winemaking.
After starting work as a high school teacher, in 1997 she joined the “Oddero Poderi e Cantine” family business in La Morra, and since 2006 she has been running the estate with the help of other family members and employees.
She has a great passion for plants, and dedicates herself to the growing of the local grape-varieties Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato, as well as the Tonda Gentile delle Langhe variety of hazelnut.
In 2008 she introduced integrated organic farming to her vineyards, and she continues along this path with the cooperation of all the winery personnel.
She is very attached to the landscape, vineyards and production of the Langhe, and took an active part with La Morra’s Unesco Club in promoting the candidacy of the Vineyard Landscapes of the Langa, Roero and Monferrato for World Heritage status, which was awarded in June 2014.
She produces the local wines from estate-grown grapes, seeking to maintain a high profile in terms of quality, sustainability and respect for the environment.
Fabrizio Pace was born on May 5th 1965 in Cossano Belbo, and lives in Diano d’Alba.
Director since 2017 of the Alba Traders Association, where he began his career in 1984, over the years he has dedicated considerable time and energy not only to the growth of the Association, but also to the development of tourism in Alba Langhe and Roero, coordinating events, initiatives and intensive promotional activity.
From 2006 to 2017 he also held the office of Director of the Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour based in Grinzane Cavour Castle, which enjoyed a veritable boom in popularity and prestige under his leadership.
These successes were another reason why he has been a Master of the Order of Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba since 2015.
A sports enthusiast and local food and wine aficionado, he holds a deep love for the area, deploying creativity and passion in furthering its appreciation and economic growth.
Born on April 29th 1931 in Diano d’Alba, Gino Sobrino began working at an early age to support his family when his father was called up for the war.
He left in 1946 for Argentina, staying for 10 years and opening a ceramics and wall and floor coverings business in Rosario. Then in 1956 he returned to Alba, where he founded Sobrino Srl which would become a leading wall and floor coverings retailer.
He was Chairman of Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Diano d’Alba for 6 years, and a founder member in 1998 of Banca d’Alba, which brought the Diano bank together Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Gallo Grinzane and Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Vezza d’Alba. He remained President of the Foundation for 9 years, and was on the Board of the ICCREA Cooperative Banking Group based in Rome.
In 2000 the great passion for wine he had inherited from his grandfather Vincenzo – an expert farmer who specialized in grafting as long ago as the late 1800s – led to his setting up the Edoardo Sobrino winery in Diano d’Alba together with his son, producing red wines which are exported throughout the world.
Thanks to Grand Master Beppe Colla, in 1998 he heard about the Order of Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba, and two years after his Investiture he became a Master on the Ruling Council, and is currently the Order’s Deputy Grand Master.
His love of travelling has taken him all over the world, except for Russia for personal reasons, and he likes trying all the local culinary specialities – including snake and ant ragù – accompanied by the local wines.
A self-declared “Gourmand and a Storyteller”, JC is deeply passionate about wine and other pleasures of the table. For 27 years, he lived and worked in Hong Kong and China first as an Entrepreneur in the Export sector and then as an expert in wine communications. In 2018, he received the honour of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” for his achievements on behalf of Italian wines in Hong Kong. He is Greater China Ambassador for Franciacorta, a WSET Certified Wine Educator and a Vinitaly Academy Italian Wine Ambassador. Experienced Wine judge for the Decanter Asia Wine Awards and Vinitaly 5-Star Wines. JC hosts a weekly wine program on RTHK Radio 3 and contributes to Spirito diVino Italia with bi-monthly articles on issues related to Asia. He was Master of the Hong Kong Delegation from December 2018 until July 2020. He will relocate to Italy in the fall of 2020.
Tomaso Zanoletti was born in Cortemilia in 1944. He attended high school in Turin before going on to graduate from the city’s University, first in Law and then in Political Sciences.
He became the youngest Mayor of Alba in 1977, and was reconfirmed with large majorities until 1990, when he went on to be a Regional Councillor, and then a Senator for 5 legislatures until 2013. In the Senate he was Vice president of Groupings, and Chair of the Employment and Social Security Committee.
Over the years he has dedicated increasing attention to tourism, truffles and wine, being instrumental in the formation of the first Tourist Board, having the Exhibition and Congress Centre built, raising the profile of the Truffle Fair (inaugurated also by Prime Ministers), campaigning against the damage that would have been caused to Alba winegrowing by an incinerator planned by chemicals company ACNA, obtaining approval for an interesting change to the law on truffles and funds for Grinzane Castle.
He was elected first President of the National Association of the Cities of Wine, presided over the Enoteca Regionale Cavour from 2000 to 2019, was President from 2001 to 2006 of the National Wine Committee that approved DOCG status for the Roero and Dogliani appellations, and founded and presided over the National Wine and Health Observatory in 2008.
He has been a Knight of the Truffle and Wines of Alba since 1983, and a Master on the Order’s Ruling Council since 2019.
He is an Honorary Member of other leading Brotherhoods, and a Commandeur in Burgundy’s Chevaliers du Tastevin.