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Gearing Up for Grappa!!

At Castoro Cellars we never seem to have a shortage of projects to keep us busy and one in particular has been circulating (or should I say distilling) for quite some time. That’s right, I used the word “distill” but why would I do that if we are a winery?!?! Well, because our latest project involves a recently purchased “Still” and a long time dream to make and pioneer Grappa on the Central Coast. For those of you who are not familiar, Grappa is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes. Each year we have giant mounds of pomace left over from processing our grapes, most of which we use for fertilizer and landscaping needs. If you ask me, making Grappa sounds like a much more exciting way to use the pomace!

The first time I was really introduced to Grappa was in the summer of 2003 on a trip to Italy. My Dad, Niels, loves Italy (i.e. Castoro) and part of loving Italy is loving the wonderful foods and beverages they make so well. Grappa is a traditional Italian distillate and “digestivo”, meaning it is typically had after dinner to aid with digestion. Hard alcohol to aid with digestion? Gotta love Italian philosophy! Anyways, on our visit to Italy in 2003 Niels was thrilled with Grappa and the idea of making Grappa at Castoro. Naturally we spent a good portion of our trip touring Grappa facilities, checking out stills and learning about the techniques that make Grappa a one of a kind distillate. If you haven’t tried Grappa I would highly recommend it. The flavor of the Grappa itself is completely dependent on what grape varietal it is made from. The nose of the Grappa tends to be very indicative of the grape, with Muscat Canelli being one of my favorites!

We also plan to use our still to make pear and cherry fruit distillates. We will be planting pear and cherry trees on some of our property as soon as possible so we can make all of our distillates from our own fruit. Our winemaker Tom, recently attended a seminar on Grappa and is very excited to experiment with this new endeavor. Almost as exciting as the Grappa is the facility we plan to house the operation in. Our “Grappa House” will be located in a restored barn near our tasting room that is over 100 years old! That’s not old in Italian standards but it’s a good start for us! We feel this barn is a perfect place to make Grappa and house our copper still.

We really couldn’t be more excited about this dream becoming a reality and above all we look forward to sharing this endeavor with you. Our goal is to not only make Grappa but also to educate, learn and share the history of this traditional drink with the beautiful Central Coast of California. Currently there is an online petition circulating to encourage the state of California to allow craft-distillers to sell/taste their products at their distillery. For more info on this and to sign the petition follow the link below: