Passion is passed down through the generations. And everybody experiences it in their own way.
The history of distilling in Italy is also the story of my family, from the end of the 19th century to today.
It began with my great-great-grandfather, a great traveller who used to distil grappa in a portable still. He dealt with farmers and factory workers, between fields and railway lines: wherever people needed warmth and energy to withstand their gruelling daily work. He worked for years, including abroad, before returning to Italy with his cart packed with experience and he settled a stone’s throw from the river Piave. The family business was born there, and grew into a bigger business thanks to my grandfather: a patriarchal figure who was keen to leave a solid legacy for his descendants. The decisive turning point was in the eighties, thanks to the revolutionary vision of my father, Italo.
It all started with a new law passed in 1984 which for the first time legalised the distilling of grapes. Until that time, the most common spirit in Italy was grappa, made with pomace. The actual grapes, traditionally saved for wine production, were an unknown world for us distillers. It was a wonderful opportunity. But also a risk. Also because this distillation didn’t have a codified method. This needed to be established.
Many would have opted for caution, hoping to avoid unproductive investments. But not my father. He was his own man, and true to himself he threw himself into experimenting, taking the bravest path. Instead of relying on futuristic technologies and the latest equipment, he took on an old factory plant which had been used to make tomato concentrate. His decision seemed insane, but he was determined to distil grapes in those obsolete copper containers from the thirties. And he was right: we still use them today for our best brandy.
Nowadays my brother and I are there to support my father’s bold spirit. With our arrival we have reached the fifth generation of distillers, and each is willing to bring their personal contribution to nourish a tradition whose roots are intertwined with ours.
We are all united by a common history which can teach us many things: that all success must be the starting point for new endeavours, that it isn’t enough to invent new challenges if one isn’t prepared to face them with total commitment. But the most important lesson, the one that we keep in our mind to nourish an enthusiasm that is passed on through the generations, is that everybody has a part in our work: us, those who preceded us, and those who will follow us.