The Post-war Period
The history of the Marzadro distillery looks like a black and white film, the story of an era that now seems remote, but which, in reality, is not. These were the post-war years, when Italy was gripped by unrelenting poverty, especially in mountain regions such as Trentino. For this reason, girls in difficulty went "into service" for the upper classes, escaping the troubles and finding acceptable living conditions in more affluent homes.
A dream: to distil
Sabina Marzadro was certainly not spared this harsh reality and, after spending 12 years in service at the home of a deputy in Rome, she returned to her home region, where her brother Attilio, an active farmer, was still waiting for her. However, Sabina returned home with a strong desire to change her life and was carrying a dream in her luggage: to undertake the art of distilling and produce good Grappa using the marc that evaporated in the courtyards of the winemaker's houses.
The first still
With a lot of effort, in the old house in Brancolino, Nogaredo, Sabina managed to build herself a direct fire alembic by Arnoldi, a well-known coppersmith. Commitment and hard work were the daily rule as part of the effort to escape from the plight of poverty once and for all. The breakthrough year was 1949, when the first wagons full of marc began arriving in the backyard. It was also at this time that the company acquired its first customers and its very clear vision for making its name in the world of distilleries, which was based on producing quality Grappa at reasonable prices.
A glass by
the name of Marzadro
At bars, it became increasingly common to hear: "Give me a Marzadro". This was the first time a shot had been named after a family, but excellent raw ingredients, plenty of passion and tenacity resulted in a queue of buyers at the door. Attilio gave Sabina a hand in the small distillery and then would go off on his Guzzi motorbike with the sidecar full of bottles to sell in Rovereto and all the neighbouring towns.
Nature in a bottle
When she wasn't distilling, Sabina never missed an opportunity to climb the mountains to collect wild Alpine herbs, roots and berries, such as woodruff, pine, nettle, juniper and rue, to combine with the Grappa. She was a woman who knew perfectly when the time was right to pick herbs and, in her extreme precision, she used to write down notes and details in a notebook, a precious treasure of knowledge that was then passed into the hands of Attilio, who continued to develop the distillery over the years.
Attilio and Teresa
In 1960 Sabina left the management of the distillery to her brother Attilio, now an undisputed expert on Grappa and all the procedures for its production. By his side was Teresa, his wife and the mother of six children. A firm but loving woman known for her sweetness as well as her firm resolve, Teresa was a fundamental figure in the creation of the company we know today. She was a wife and mother who was able to juggle the education of her children and her many tasks at the distillery.
The growth needed
In 1964, the need for a larger space and a more effective distillation system became urgent. The company underwent a general overhaul, with the creation of a new distillery a few steps from the house where it had been run for so many years. An office, a large weight in the courtyard used for weighing the wagons full of marc and a row of gleaming stills were also added. A room was also built for the final bottling stages, and a small shop was put together for retail selling.
A car in the town
The production and sale of Grappa proved to be a lucky choice. So it was that Attilio bought a Fiat Multipla 600D, the only car in the town in those years. The car came to serve many functions, and was used not only for deliveries, but for all of the villagers' emergencies, such as when a woman was giving birth and it was essential to get her to the Rovereto hospital quickly.
One family, one passion
Once they had grown up, the children soon began to help Attilio, especially Stefano, Erino, Andrea and Elena, who were joined by the youngest daughters, Anna and Fabiola, a few years later. It was a family story of a passion that Attilio, who was very proud of his descendants, passed down to the last detail year after year, revealing all the secrets of the art of distilling to his large family.
It was 1975 and the Marzadro distillery underwent a revolution: it launched Grappa made from a single grape variety, in their case produced from Marzemino grape marc from the nearby village of Isera. It was an instant success, especially in an era in which single varietal Grappa was a novelty. The fragrance of the varietal, the richness of the grape and the hand of the distiller came together to produce a unique array of sensations, a mixture that, until then, seemed to belong only to wine.
At the end of the 1970s came the gleaming new copper Bagnomaria stills.
Previously, to heat the marc, the fire was lit directly under the boiler and a lot of attention was required to ensure it was adjusted to the right intensity. With the Bagnomaria system, however, the boiler is immersed in water. The latter, after being heated, has the task of transmitting the heat to the marc until reaching the right temperature. The heating is therefore more gradual and allows the steam to be enhanced with of all the aromas and alcohol required to obtain an excellent, softer and more fragrant Grappa. It is a process that takes longer but ensures a higher quality product.
A winning response
to the market crisis
In the early 1980s, Attilio passed responsibility of the distillery onto his children, but still remained a valuable support. At that time, however, the "new" Marzadro distillers were immediately faced with a Grappa crisis. "Commercial" Grappa, accompanied by big brands and by mass advertising campaigns, became the leading product. The Marzadro siblings did not take long to respond, however, and created a new product that was in line with the emerging market demands but in full Trentino style. This led to the creation of the first Grappa based liqueur with tasty blueberries from Trentino, picked in Baselga di Pinè, at 1000 metres altitude, and then manually inserted into the neck of the bottles one by one.
The family grows
United by their companionship and passion for distilling, the family expanded further. Even Attilio, strengthened by his past, began to follow his grandchildren and pass on his wealth of knowledge, passion, commitment and years of work. The new generations were now ready to accommodate the legacy of their grandfather, and, with the passing of years, they gave their innovative contribution, transforming Marzadro into a dynamic, up-to-date company that always remained true to its solid roots.
Finally, the crisis passed, and quality Grappa was once again appreciated in Italy, and even expanded beyond national borders. Marzadro kept the distillery in Brancolino with the cellar and ageing rooms, but nevertheless felt the need to develop further, so as to have new spaces for warehouses, offices and bottling. Rovereto, near the historic home of the business, seemed the most appropriate solution... and from there another great family adventure began that is still continuing today.
The added value
of work "done by hand"
The arrival of the new millennium inevitably changed the world of work but, while accepting and taking advantage of the improvements that the new era was bringing, Marzadro continued to uphold its traditions, and the added value of the work "done by hand". Because of this, contrary to what was happening elsewhere, the decision was taken to develop and enlarge the "artistic workshop", where craftsman artists customised bottles with hand-painted designs and dedications, giving each bottle the opportunity to be turned into a unique piece.
Le Diciotto Lune
The year 2002 saw the creation of Le Diciotto Lune Stravecchia Grappa, although the trials and experiments for it had begun several years earlier. As we all know, excellence is never achieved by chance. The efforts paid off in full, and in a short time it became a classic high-profile Grappa, a position that it still maintains. It is the result of the selection of the best marc from Trentino, taken from selected vines and distilled in traditional Bagnomaria pot stills. The resulting Grappa is aged for a minimum of 18 months in small barrels made from different types of wood. Slowly, over time, the combination of wood and Grappa evolves to create a full harmony, while the final blend is expressed in its ethereal perfume and rounded taste.
The Marzadro family was still united by a dream: to create a distillery efficient and large enough to carry out all its tasks internally and to accommodate the many visitors from all over Europe. In 2004, in Nogaredo, 1 km from Brancolino, part of the land cultivated for vines by Attilio was transformed into stone, wood and glass to create a distillery with harmonious architecture that was traditional in form but modern on the inside. The distillery, barrel store, offices, warehouse and bottling area were then transferred from Brancolino to Nogaredo.
A forest of copper
The distillation plant is circular in shape and consists of eight Bagnomaria stills, and takes the form of a forest of copper illuminated by a glass dome that sits on top of it. Efficient and large, it was crafted according to traditional techniques.
The third generation
These were difficult years for everyone, but the spirit of initiative and the belief in a quality, unique product were the driving forces that keep the business going strong. The successes and awards kept coming in in vast numbers, a sign that all the efforts made to date have borne fine fruit. In addition, being in an area as rich and generous as Trentino fuels the desire to grow and the courage to face new challenges. The dream of Sabina and Attilio is now a reality, and the family, who remembers them with great affection and esteem, is more united than ever.
The passion continues...