What started as a humble travelling sales cart in Ronchi di Percoto is today a veritable grappa empire! The Nonino family’s perfect combination of tradition, innovation and commitment has put them at the top of the game. We were lucky enough to sit down with Grappa Nonino’s marketing warrior, Antonella Nonino. This is what we found out…
- Antonella, your mother, has been very involved in Grappa Nonino at both brand and distilling levels. Would you say she’s a role model for you?
Absolutely! As soon as my mother entered the family, she started to work with my father in the distillery, which was run by her mother-in-law (also a very strong woman). My mother had very smart marketing ideas. In the first years of Grappa Nonino Monovitigno, she gave away bottles to certain people. People she thought had the palate to appreciate the elegance of the grappa. In about ten years, she really revolutionised the grappa field in Italy, and influenced all areas of grappa production.
- When did you and your sisters start getting actively involved in the Grappa Nonino legacy?
In our teenage years. We had always been close to the distillery. At the beginning it was with very simple tasks, like answering the phone, or noting down the amounts of pomace collected per day. Our father taught us to distill as we got older, and we learnt from the experience of being in and around the distillery. At busy times we would monitor the weighing of pomace brought in by local farmers, which was to be turned into grappa for their personal consumption, not for commercial sale.
- Grappa Nonino is a company owned largely by women. Do you feel that this influences the brand, and if so, how?
My father, Benito, has always preferred working with women due to their precision and attention to detail. Similarly, having different views (as my parents Benito and Giannola often did) led to innovation within Grappa Nonino. When we were younger and in the process of learning about distillation, our father would explain every detail to us. For example, what kind of pomace was good to use for grappa, and what was not. Occasionally, people bringing their pomace for distillation would think that because my sisters and I were young women, we were inexperienced and not attentive. They would then try to give us rotten pomace. So, we learnt early on that attention to detail and control of the primary product, the pomace, was of great importance.
- What makes the Grappa Nonino consumer stand out?
The Grappa Nonino consumer appreciates quality. They understand that behind Grappa Nonino, there’s a legacy that is respectful of tradition, but focused on innovation. The younger generation of Grappa Nonino consumers believes in access to information. Consequently, we’re aligning ourselves with them to provide transparency on the label and quality of the grappa.
- Do you feel that being a family business has benefitted Grappa Nonino?
When we were young, we would drive through the vineyards in Friuli with our mother while she was working. I have always had wonderful memories of that period. I often tell my daughters I want to do the same with them. Such early memories of the enchanting landscapes in Friuli are important the Nonino family.
- Despite being 120 years old, Grappa Nonino keeps on experimenting and innovating. Where does that drive come from?
Grappa Nonino is based on a thirst for knowledge. Particularly, in the last 10 years, we have been focusing on innovation in the bartending industry. On the one hand, my mother has been making great innovations in grappa production in the last 30 years. On the other hand, we’ve been working with bartenders to promote knowledge of our quality, product, and the Grappa Nonino brand.
- What prompted Grappa Nonino’s decision to move into the South African market?
South Africa is a country that is facing the future. This makes it a very exciting prospect for Grappa Nonino.
- What does the future hold for Grappa Nonino?
We will continue experimenting with the production process, with a focus on aged grappa. We’ve been making that since the 1950’s. The enrichment of our aged grappa comes from contact with wood. This allows for naturally rich colours and flavours. As always, we are working to further global appreciation of grappa, and Grappa Nonino.
For more info, read our exposé on the Grappa Nonino brand, or check out the official Grappa Nonino website.