Grappa is a uniquely Italian drink. Traditionally made from pomace, the discarded grape seeds, stalks and stems that are a by-product of the winemaking process, Grappa has been around since the Middle Ages. For generations, Italians have sipped this firewater after meals and even added a little to their morning espresso, to 'correct' it (try to order a 'caffè corretto' next time you are in Italy). Once considered an acquired taste, popular only in Italy, Grappa, today, is making itself known around the world. Distilleries from Australia to Oregon, as well as Italy, are trying their hand at making Grappa, with surprisingly good results.
Legend states that the manufacture of grappa goes back to the first century AD, and that a Roman soldier first distilled grappa in the northern town of Bassano in the 2nd century using equipment stolen in Egypt. Around 1300-1400 AD, however, the introduction of water as a coolant in the distilling equipment made it possible to produce a substantially larger amount of distilled wine. Around 1600 AD, the Jesuits in Spain, Italy and Germany studied and codified the techniques used to produce brandy or grappa, and their methods were used until recent times.
The modernization of grappa distillation is relatively recent, probably in 1979 in Northen Italy. Initially it was carried out by direct flame but soon the advantages of a bain-marie or steam distillation to obtain a better product became obvious. Modern refinements include the use of varietal grapes and aging in casks of various types of wood to improve the flavor of the liquor. Oak is the most used, but some high end grappas, are aged successively in cask of oak, acacia, ash and cherrywood.
Once chosen the best gapes marcs we separate them by each varietal group, and then distill them separately. Each Alembic is loaded with 300 Kilos of grape marc (which will be come 15 to 30 liters of grappa, according to the yield). In each Alembic, the steam is introduced at very low pressure. Every 50/60 minutes the temperature is controlled manually, and then open the valves which discharge fusels in the distillation column. In the column of ditillazione occurs the further separation of water and alcohol. The result is a product of 78 ° / 81 ° alcohol, which has kept the fragrance and tastes of a typical “discontinuous” distillation highly crafted.