The world’s postmodern grappa starts with a revolution. On December 1st, 1973, Giannola and Benito Nonino (great-grandson of Orazio Nonino, who founded the distillery in 1897), invent single-varietal grappa, forever changing the perception and production of this ancient Friulian distillate. The fiery Giannola and her quiet Benito purposely chose Friuli’s most ancient, rare and delicate grape to carry out their innovative project: the first ever single-varietal grappa in the world was a Grappa di Picolit. As this was followed by other indigenous classics, the couple realized many of Friuli’s onetime glories not only risked extinction, but were bizarrely forbidden by the authorities, and replaced with less characteristic, more stereotyped modern stock. Thus was it Giannola had another of her whirlwind ideas: on November 29th, 1975, she and her husband created the Risit d’Âur Award (risit d’âur is Friulian dialect for “golden rootstock”): every year, a substantial prize would be given to the Friulian grower who’d planted the best vineyard of one of the region’s erstwhile treasures – such as Ribolla Gialla, Schioppettino, Tazzelenghe, Pignolo… In 1983, the European Economic Community authorized the varieties that were so close to Nonino’s heart.In 1976, the Risit d’Âur was complemented by the Nonino Literary Prize. Giannola and Benito had managed a rare feat indeed: marrying the rural and intellectual worlds, soil and soul, body and spirit – not to mention the visual arts, for in their hands, the former Cinderella of distillates has become a fairy princess in designer dress. No longer a rustic marc distillate but a top-quality aqua vitae from specific varieties, crus and single vineyards, packaged in bottles as exquisite as deluxe perfume’s. That’s not all: Giannola herself dreamed up the world’s first distillate from whole grapes rather than marc. It was November 27th, 1984: ÙE (“grapes” in the local dialect) was born… In April 2000, the Noninos created GIOIELLO NONINO, pure honey distillate: aqua vitae exclusively made from a range of fragrant, flavorsome honeys. The first and (for now) the only such distillate in Italy or the world. In 2004/2005, Benito and Giannola decided to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of ÙE’s creation, 1984-2004, with yet another new gem in the Nonino crown: ÙE Uvarossa – a blend of whole grape distillates from native red varieties such as Schioppettino, Refosco and Fragolino. In 2005/2006, another collector’s edition ÙE is launched: La Riserva “dei Cent’anni”, aged 12 years in barrique.
Benito & Giannola Nonino