Nonino: The family that revolutionized the world of Grappa

Distillers in Friuli since 1897. With a peasant heart, spirit and tenacity.

Italian family with rural Italian family dynamics.

Concreteness.

Tenacious and rough. Rough in not compromising with unbridled marketing and often true subversives of the trends of large productions.

The Nonino family has been able to transform Grappa, for centuries considered a poor distillate, born from the waste of wine-making, into an elite and cultural product, becoming in 2019 the first Italian distillery and the first grappa brand to be elected « Best Distillery in the World » by Wine Enthusiast.

A lifetime of work and passion for distillation, which has led them to make three major revolutions in the world of distillation:

1. On December 1st 1973 they revolutionized the way of producing and proposing grappa in the world by creating the first single-variety grappa, the  Monovitigno® Nonino. 

2. On November 27, 1984 they mark a new turning point: they are the first to distil whole grapes and create the Acquavite d’Uva ÙE® Picolit. 

3. In 2000, after years of research, they present GIOIELLO®, the distillate of ‘Purity’, the pure honey Acquavite

For the Nonino family, distillation is a business to be shared daily with a single partner, a majority partner to be respected and worshipped daily: nature.

From the very beginning, they gave themselves a production diktat that left no room for « commercial shortcuts ». The very structure of their distillery is a true declaration of love for grape pomace, their precious raw material.

Grape pomace is the part of the grape richest in polyphenols and aromatic substances but it is very delicate, it only takes a few hours for it to start developing secondary degenerative fermentations. In order to respect the freshness of their raw material, the Noninos went against the industry’s habit of keeping it and distilling it for 8 months of the year, choosing to distill it exclusively in concomitance with the harvest. For this reason they built a distillery with 66 artisanal discontinuous stills (as opposed to the average of 6-12 stills of Italian distilleries) which distill 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, but only for 9 weeks a year.

The real Nonino revolution is precisely this, to love their work so much that they are willing to put respect for the quality of the raw material they distil at the center of their lives, day after day, harvest after harvest. They thus imposed to the grappa market new qualitative peculiarities, raising the status of the whole category.

A hedonistic must of the Italian after-dinner tasting on par with the great foreign distillates such as whisky and cognac.

How they got to the result of such a great prestige was really a path of university studies.

It is enough to think that in their life as distillers, they also created a literary award. Born in 1975 to save the autochthonous Friulian vines whose cultivation had become illegal (Pignolo, Schioppettino , Tazzelenghe and Ribolla Gialla) the Nonino Prize has become over the years an international award that has anticipated the Nobel Prize 6 times. A crucial cultural commitment where grappa, in an elegant way, has joined international debates on crucial issues.

And all this was thanks to the passion for his work. In Ronchi di Percoto, a few kilometers from Udine, Nonino is today a consolidated reality with 40 employees and a growing turnover of almost 13 million euros.

The incredible and complex rise of Nonino to the Olympus of world distillates starts from passion: a family of distillers who have been in love with the art of distillation for 124 years.

Matteo Donelli

International manager and journalist, he has held the role of president and vice-president of companies in the USA, China and Brazil on behalf of an Italian company. Journalist for Emilian and national newspapers, he is author of the books « Orientarsi in Cina » and « Brazil, storie dell’altro mondo ».