What is Grappa?

European Union Regulation 110/2008, Italian Presidential Decree 297/97 and Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies Decree 747/2016 essentially define grappa thus: a spirit obtained by direct distillation of pomace (skins and grapes after separation from the entirely or partially fermented must), together with a possible portion of wine deposits. The raw materials used must come from grapes produced and vinified in Italy in compliance with the specific provisions in force and in plants located in the national territory.

There are two consequences of this:

1- Grappa is the spirit obtained from the distillation of pomace which enters the still as a solid raw material. This is a fundamental prerequisite because distilling a piquette obtained by leaching pomace reduces the risk of poor production and is cheaper. However, it doesn’t lead to a distillate characterized by the full aromatic qualities that only direct distillation of the grape skins and aromatic substances contained in them can deliver. In Italy, solid pomace has always been preferred for distillation. This means, over the centuries, the challenging technology that lies at the heart of grappa has been developed and refined.

2- Grappa must be produced in Italy to protect its distinctive characteristics – meaning first and foremost its aroma – and this comes from the skill and experience handed down through generations of master distillers. Indeed, over the years, they have learned to adapt and modify their stills and fine tune them to exploit to the full the qualities of the pomace being used and the characteristics of the grappa to be obtained. So each grappa can be considered a true work of art – unique and unrepeatable.


When grapes are pressed, a liquid (the must) and solid parts are obtained – skins, seeds and, if left in, the stems. This makes up the pomace. This is called sweet (or virgin) pomace if fermentable sugars are present in significant quantities, or fermented when the sugars have been completely converted into alcohol. In the first instance, the pomace comes from the white winemaking process. It will have to complete the alcoholic fermentation process before it can be sent for distillation.


Pomace contains a large number of volatile components. Among these, the most significant in terms of quantity are water and alcohol. In a nutshell, distillation is the physical and chemical process conducted through heating in stills whereby these substances are vapourised, separated and then recovered in liquid form through recondensation brought about by reducing in temperature.