About Me (the wino)!

Hi, I’m Valerie Quintanilla, but you can call me Val. Thanks for visiting me here at Girl’s Gotta Drink!

I started my little site back in 2012 as a way to occupy my time during my early expat days. The region has long seemed elusive to would-be travelers with little information available online. My approach in my writing here has been to answer questions I had as a visitor to the area, but with the insight of a local.

In addition, as a wino I am blessed to live close to other incredible wine regions around Italy, France, Spain, Germany, etc. So, I write about those adventures as well.

Girl's Gotta Drink

One of the first questions I get when I meet readers is, “how did you get here?” 

In 2011, I found my way to Piedmont (Piemonte in Italiano) located in Northern Italy. It was a short three days at the end of an amazing adventure driving the boot, south to north. (Talk about contrast!)

Upon arrival, I dubbed it my one-day Italian home. I returned to Denver, Colo. saying as much. Reactions were interesting: my then-boss tormented me endlessly about packing up and moving to Italy immediately (I swear, I was good at that job!) A good friend (always the realist) said, “What Val, you’re going to meet some dude and make him move to Italy with you?” Me: “I dunno. I’m just gonna move to Piedmont. Shut up.”

Truth be told, I didn’t actually believe I would move to Piedmont. But, what did it hurt to dream!?

Well, fast forward to Italy 2012. I just had to go back to soak in the region, so I planned seven full days in Piedmont. On my first full day out wine touring, I met a British chap who worked for a Barolo producer. He seemed like a nice guy, so I let him show me around – hey, a girl’s gotta eat drink!

Long story short, eight month’s later I traded the Rockies for the Alps. I quit my job, rented out my townhouse, and got a one-way ticket to Turin. Oh, and started this blog. The blog eventually became a business, starting with Barbaresco and Barolo wine tours.

The Piedmont adventure never ends! 

Today, Il Marito (“The Husband”) and I are raising Il Raggazino (“The Little Boy”) in Alba, where we also run our accidental Piedmont food and wine tour business. I say ‘accidental’ because the site has sort of taken on a life of its own. These days we have expanded our travel planning and guide services outside of Northern Italy, spanning other parts of the country.

As a family, we enjoy exploring wine regions all over Europe – particularly other parts of Italy and France. Il Ragazzino is quite the little traveler and does very well on the road – siamo molto fortunati! 

Life seems fast and furious these days with regional tourism at an all-time high and a toddler who keeps us on our toes. In addition, I write for different publications about the area and even had some photos published in Food & Wine Magazine in a feature on the Piedmont wine region!

I am continuing my wine education with WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) certification; I am pleased to report I passed Level 2 with distinction (batti cinque!) and am looking ahead to the more involved Level 3 studies.

We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities my little site has brought us by way of experiences and new friends.

A heartfelt thank you to our readers, our producer network (wine and food), and guests who have trusted us with their travel plans. Our work does not save lives, but we like to think we are enriching them. Certainly, those we have met through this great adventure enrich ours.

Cin cin!

Barbaresco Blog


  • I just read your post on hiking in Cinque Terre–very nice! You have a nice writing voice that made me chuckle. As someone who has always wanted to pick up and move to Italy, I’m curious as to how you did it. What kind of visa do you have?? That’s always been the main road block I run into.

  • Fontechiara is a small winery located in the Northeast area of Piedmont, near Maggiore and Orta Lake. We produce high quality red wines, that are faithful expression of the territory as they are made with native local grapes like the famous Nebbiolo and the ancient Vespolina.
    We receive tourist for Tours and Wine Tasting. Please, contact us for more information and price.
    We should be particulary grateful if you will visit our website http://www.fontechiara.eu
    Hope to hear from you soon


  • Wow! What a story! My husband and I felt the same way when we went to Italy! So happy (jealous) you made the move! Looking forward to reading the blog! Cheers!

  • So you live in Alba, you are practically a neighbour. We are in a lovely Village called Bergolo. We love everything Alta Langhe, Piemonte. We gave up England 2 years ago to pursue our life here in Italy. We have just finished renovating a farmhouse to let out as a bed & breakfast to let other people discover how The Alta Langhe has everything the heart could desire. We do enjoy reading your blog. Keep inspiring us with your great tales from this part of Italy.

  • Just booked trip 17-22 July, staying near Diana d’alba.
    Would love to meet up for a chat, if you’ll be around, Val.

  • I’m staying in a lovely new flat in Castino, glitch with the booking of the other one.
    Hope this is not too far away.
    This is my first time in the area, but it looks right up my street!
    I love Barolo wine, so looking forward to visiting a vineyard or two, but will be reliant on taxis/public transport. I’ve been told there are buses to Alba from Castino.
    I’m going to Barolo to see Paulo Nutini on 18th, evening I think.

    Hope we can meet up, I’d love to hear how you are getting on with life there.

  • Hi Val,
    I’m your follower on Twitter
    Since you’re so close, I would like to invite you for a visit, and tasting of course, to Cascina Boschetti Barolo…You will love it. Cellar and bineyard are in “incredible position” up the village and the castle of Barolo.
    I’m Oenologist but my role in the company is export manager.
    i hooe you will accept..
    Kind tegards.

  • Hello,
    Only just discovered your blog (where have i been)
    Moved to a little village just outside cortemillia in February after 14 years being brit expats in Dubai.
    Currently waiting for II Marito to get on a plane and join me here with our 3 children, 2 dogs, 2 chickens and counting…
    Love the wine food and festivals in this beautiful region
    looking forward to the Bra cheese festival in September yum

  • Hi Valerie,
    I just found your website and love all the tips so far. My husband and I just moved to Alba from Denver, Colorado. If you are interested, I would love to chat over an espresso about Alba, Piedmont, wine, travel…etc….and we are checking out some of your restaurant suggestions as well such as Pensive Peggio…nice brew pub -)

  • Hi Valerie!

    My name is Margo, I’m 24 years old, and I will be moving from Arizona, US to Alba at the end of February 2017 to work on a family friend’s vineyard/B&B. I’ve actually never been to Italy, but my parents love it sooo here I go! I’m in the process of working out the details and found your blog.

    I’d much appreciate picking your brain about your experience/advice you might have. I’d love to hear back from you!

    Thanks so much & Ciao 😉

    • Ciao, Margo –

      What an adventure! Where will you be working? We live in Alba, so we’ll have to get together when you arrive! Please email me at girlsgottadrink @ gmail.com – we can discuss more! I’m a little slower on response times these days as we have a newborn, so I’m not ignoring you if I don’t respond right away.

      A presto!

  • Hi! I am a Travel Agent and have a client who wants to visit Asti from Turin. From what I can gather they want to visit the winery which produces Asti Spumante as well as visiting the sights and other wineries. They want to do it preferably as a day tour from Turin. I myself have a very soft spot for Turin but I haven’t been there for over 30 years. Are there any such tours from Turin or if the train to Asti are there any tours from Asti. I would appreciate your advice very much and thank you in advance.

    • Ciao, Joseph! Thanks for the note and for reading!

      We don’t do pick up in Torino, but have plenty of clients who come from there for the day and we do pick-up at the Asti train station. I’m sure there are tours initiating in Torino, I’m just not in touch with anyone. I wish I could be more help!


      • Valerie I still cannot find any tours from Turin that visit Asti. However, if I train them to Asti can I arrange that you pick them up for a tour of Asti and then return them to the train station for their return to Turin. The date would be 14 April.

  • Hi Valerie!
    What a joy i’ve found your blog. I’m a russian girl, born in Latvia, living for the past nine years in Italy. I just moved to Alba from Tuscany. Exploring the area, trying to make new friends and really enjoying my new job in a winery. It would be fun to hang out together one day! Cheers!


    PS I also have a wine blog: http://www.wineterview.com

    • Ciao, Elena!

      I’d love to meet up sometime! We have an infant, so my schedule is a bit all over the place just now, but hopefully we can find a time to meet up. Email me at girlsgottadrink @ gmail.com

      A presto! Val

  • My wife and I just got back from 10 days in Alba and Barolo. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF THE GREAT INFORMATION! The vast majority of our trip was based on your website. All of the info was spot on. Restaurants, wine tasting locations, and the like, all made for a great trip. Just when I thought all gelato was about the same, you pointed us to La Romana, in Alba. A whole new level of deliciousness. Thanks again.

  • I was down a rabbit hole when I came across your site. We’ve used Alba as our base six times in the last 2 years and, like you said: “feck it, let’s just move there.” We’re heading out March 1 for 7 months. If you ever want to chat over a few bottles with Americans (we’re leaving DC) who’ve fled Trumplandia for the better life, ping my email. Otherwise, I’ll be catching up on your threads. Ciao!

  • Hi Valerie,

    This is a wonderful website. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    I’m looking for advice. We would like to go to Alba and area in October 2018, but we probably will not know until March whether we can travel at that time. I know it’s a popular destination, so how much time in advance do you think we need to make our reservations for hotel and flight? Would March be early enough?

    • Ciao, Elise! Thanks for the message and the kind words on the site! October is high season, but you should be able to still be able to book lodging in March. Things are starting to book earlier, but there are more and more places popping up, so you should be fine. I can’t really say on flights, though in recent years we’ve had a lot of people do last minute trips in November because of flight deals.

      Enjoy your time in the area! Val

  • Val – I love your blog! We have been going to Alba since 2006 to visit our family. We have had some of the most amazing food and wine there. In fact I never drank red wine until I traveled to Alba and had some of the Piemonte region wine. They are proud of it as they should be.
    Maybe one day we can share a glass of wine in Alba!!
    Cin Cin

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