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Farewell to Benito Nonino, the “father” of Italian grappa, a Made in Italy excellence the world over

Nonino and his Distilleries have written one of the most beautiful Italian family business stories
Benito and Giannola Nonino, with their daughters and grandchildren

The great journalist, Gianni Brera (on May 25, 1985, in the daily, “La Repubblica”), wrote, “The Noninos discovered that to make grappa well you need to heat it with love. They also realized that distilling the fresh pomace immediately gives rise to the best possible product”. His words recall the “spirit” of Benito Nonino, “father” of Italian grappa, who passed away yesterday, at the age of 90, at his Nonino Distilleries, the historic family home-company in Percoto, Friuli, where he was born on February 6, 1934. It is also where, on December 1, 1973, in an historic event, together with Luigi Veronelli, and his wife Giannola Nonino - who Brera named, “Our Lady of grappa” - he created the first Single Variety Grappa, distilling the pomace of the Picolit grape separately. This procedure revolutionized the world of a product that is now a symbol of Made in Italy all over the world.
Nonino has welcomed the great masters of Italian journalism, as well the greatest intellectuals of our time. In 1975, Benito and Giannola Nonino pioneered the Nonino Prize, to reward and officially acknowledge the ancient native Friulian vines, enhance rural civilization and preserve the biodiversity of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and in that occasion, Mario Soldati was president of the jury. The prize is awarded to the most influential personalities in the cultural, literary and food and wine fields. And, the prize has anticipated winners of the Nobel Prizes six times.
The legacy around the revolution of the first single-variety grappa starts from “sgnapa”, a tavern product created in a small family business. The Nonino family has been dedicated to the Art of Distillation since 1897, distilling fresh pomace using a 100% artisanal method as well as aged and Reserve grappas that follow natural aging in barriques under seal. The brand has become famous throughout the world, and now Giannola and her daughters, Cristina, Antonella and Elisabetta Nonino, will continue to “guard” and carry on. The daughters were born and raised in the distillery (where Benito Nonino had asked to be brought, yesterday, ed.), and the latest generation as well, represented by Francesca Bardelli Nonino. They all agree, as they once said, “grappa is such a part of our life that it has become a member of the family, a fourth sister”.
What is their secret? Rediscovering and relaunching forgotten products, and creating new spirits. Thanks to Nonino, it was awarded the best distillery in the world, “Spirit Brand-Distiller of the Year” in 2019 by the famous US magazine, “Wine Enthusiast”. It was the first time that Italian grappa received the most important International award in the sector. It is a case history study, according to one of the most influential academic journals in the world, the “London School of Economics (LSE) Business Review”, as it is consistently looking to the future and keeping up with the times as few historic brands manage to do, Italian grappa - which has now evolved into a cocktail version, the Nonino BotanicalDrink Aperitif, considered the best aperitif in the world - has reached the top of International criticism and the hearts of enthusiasts, conveying to the world the love that Gianni Brera described.

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