Until I was 21 years old, ballet was my life, with ambitions and a determination to stay on stage. I could have never imagined that my career would turn and rewardingly lead me to a wine cellar.
I became a professional dancer, after many years of training, when I was a teenager and I collaborated with different dance companies based in the city of Florence, Italy. The life of a dancer isn’t always the easiest, it takes a lot of passion as well as sacrifices. While still dancing, I started to study winemaking at university. I found out that the other students were getting together after classes to taste wine, eat good food and spend some time talking about it. Being a dancer meant that I wasn’t allowed to do those things, and my life was so busy that I never had the time to do it anyways. I gradually started to realize that winemaking was becoming more important for me and that I wanted to have more time to share this new interest with other people. It was at that point that I made up my mind and decided to quit my dance career. It wasn’t easy at first, because dance was the only natural thing to me.
Naturally, I had doubts and fears but luckily the wine world came up so interesting that I was confident about my decision, becoming more aware that art can regenerate itself into new disciplines, and can keep on transforming you, if only you are able to listen.
What came after was the beginning of an inspiring new journey, just as complicated and fulfilling as ballet had been. After graduation, I traveled to different countries outside Italy, following harvests across the globe. After a few years, I started to feel the need to go back to Italy, missing its tradition. I started to look for a good opportunity to move back. I got in contact with Frescobaldi, one of the oldest growing wineries in Italy, and when they offered me to join their team, I took the chance to be part of this amazing company.
Winemaking is a blend of art and science. It takes passion and a good number of hours spent studying but also making attempts, finding new solutions, new ways of expression and harmony.
Lucia Minoggio at Tuscan winery Frescobaldi.
Winemaking is indeed a very practical job, so it is necessary to gain as much experience as possible on the field. I have operated in many different sectors of production throughout the cellar and the lab, to understand what it takes to make wine. I traveled a lot because it proves to be useful to know how in different places people can solve the same problem or reach a good goal in a completely different way compared to the one that you always used. I think it is important to be curious without forgetting the technical knowledge that is at the base of this job.
Frescobaldi has a very long history in the wine world and to me the challenge here is to be able to use my curiosity about what’s new, to blend it in a harmonic way with the tradition. There they gave me the chance to believe that even in the “old wine world” there is the chance for a woman to become a winemaker, even if agriculture is still mostly dominated by men. For this reason, I admire women like my friend Priyanka French - she’s an awesome winemaker who comes from India and works in California- and my mother who were able before me to make their way in this field giving me the passion and the strength to believe that I could do it as well.
I understand that for men who find themselves having a woman as a cellar master for the first time, it isn’t easy. It is something new and different compared to how it used to be for decades before.
It takes time to begin a new adventure and we don’t always choose who our traveling companions will be.
To face the journey as a team gives confidence to everyone, including the person who has to show the way to others. I empowered myself trying to share with my team the reasons why I take my decisions, listening to their suggestions and trying to solve problems quickly.
It is always very important to keep a high level of attention in the cellar, because many things happen at the same time. It can be challenging sometimes to trust your own decisions when you are in a rush and you make them just based on what you can smell or taste. Although working in the countryside means that it is possible to enjoy every day the amazing view of the hillside, the harvest is such a busy time that during those weeks life outside the winery doesn’t exist anymore. In the meantime, it is very satisfactory to taste a glass of wine being able to remember the day when the grapes where picked. During the year the wine evolves, just as one’s tastes and desires do; thus, it is important to develop the ability to understand what it needs and to always take care of every single barrel in the cellar.
Wine puts people together and, realizing that you are the winemaker who made it. It’s a feeling that doesn’t compare to anything else. In my opinion, it is important to keep in mind this feeling to be able to succeed. Similarly, when you are on stage: You are presenting yourself to an audience and all that you want is that audience to be united under the same intense emotion.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."