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Nonino, grappa as an art
Rome - (Ign) - Almost 130 years of history to transform the craft activity of a distiller of grape skins from a small town between Udine and Palmanova, in north-east Italy, into a brand of world renown, symbol of Italian quality and of an art and science in producing grape distillates without equals in the world. This is the story of Nonino, the small company from Friuli which produces grappas universally acknowledged as some of the best in the world. The story begins in 1897, when Orazio Nonino established in Ronchi di Percoto the headquarters of his distillery which up until then had only existed as a travelling activity: with his alembic on a cart, Orazio went to the individual wine producers, in one of the zones of northern Italy where winemaking has always been one of the most important activities, to distil their grape skins. Consequently, in 1897, the first real distillery was set up, with the name Nonino on the front door. Orazio was succeeded by his children, and the small company grew, but without ever losing its cottage industry nature, even when, in 1933, it became obligatory to bottle grappa. Up until then it had been kept in demijohns, without labels or seals, but with the law of 1933 it became necessary to indicate the contents of each bottle, the manufacturer, and the State seals. This led to the first Nonino label, the classic image of the Friuli hearth. In 1962 there was a new profound change, which coincided with the marriage of Benito Nonino, grandson of Orazio, with Giannola Bulfoni. Together they would lead the small family company to new experiences, with the objective of transforming humble grappa into a noble distallate acknowledged by connoisseurs the world over. We thus asked Giannola Nonino (in the photo together with her three daughters Cristina, Antonella and Elisabetta), how this transformation from a small cottage industry to internationally famous brand came about, leading to the award of the Leonardo QualitĂ Italia Prize in 1993 (www.comitatoleonardo.it).
"Nonino," replies Giannola, "has always been a family business following a craft tradition. The distillation of our grappa takes place exclusively using traditional methods, that of batch vapour distillation. The Nonino family has always aimed to give priority to product quality through a continuous activity of research and experimentation, rather than focusing on quantity. It is in this framework that we arrived at a turning point, in 1973, when we created the first single grape variety grappa, adopting, against all industrial trends, a selection of grape skins and separately distilling the skins of the individual varieties, then introducing temperature controlled fermentation, immediately followed by traditional batch distillation".
And subsequently what were the most important moments in the history of your company?
"In 1984 we then created Acquavite d'Uva (Grape Distillate), obtaining authorisation to distil whole grapes. Lastly, in 2000 we created Honey Brandy. As you can see, there is continuous commitment to innovation but always in respect of tradition, which has allowed us to make the Nonino brand an international benchmark of Italian quality".
What influence have commercial aspects had in the consolidation of your brand?
"We give great importance to the promotional and marketing activities carried out in person by the members of the Family, with tastings, meetings, invitations to the company and through the International Nonino Prize. We are present in 38 countries, initially selected on the basis of a strong presence of quality Italian cuisine, and then afterwards on the basis of demand due, we consider, to the reputation of our products throughout the world".
What goals have you set for the future ?
"To continue on our path without ever giving up our difficult battle to safeguard the highest quality".
Nonino Distillatori Spa
tel +39 - 0432676331